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The Week USA - May 04, 2018

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The return
of low-tech
p.5 Emmanuel
The Bush
The big
Can Trump really get
North Korea’s Kim
to give up his nukes?
MAY 4, 2018 VOLUME 18 ISSUE 871
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Editor’s letter
There was much Muggle rejoicing when J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard made his Broadway debut this week. Critics and fans raved
about the spellbinding special effects in Harry Potter and the
Cursed Child, set 19 years after Harry defeated Voldemort,
and how the show extends Rowling’s magical tale. (See Film
& Stage.) Yet for all that applause, it’s hard not to see this latest Potter installment as proof that pop culture is running low
on ideas. All that’s left to scrape from the story barrel, it seems,
are sequels, spin-offs, and revivals. Fifteen of last year’s 20 biggest films—including Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Wonder
Woman—were sequels or relaunches. And at least 43 of this
year’s box office releases are reboots or follow-ons, among them
Avengers: Infinity War—the 19th (19th!) film in the Marvel
superhero series. Roseanne and Lost in Space recently returned
to our TVs, and Amazon is now working on a five-season Lord
of the Rings show, presumably to satisfy Hobbit huggers who
thought the 10-hour movie trilogy wasn’t quite long enough.
All this recycling makes financial sense for entertainment executives. They know that in a competitive marketplace, consumers will typically pick a brand they’re familiar with over something new, whether it’s dish soap or a movie. And for audiences,
this cultural regurgitation can be a source of comfort in an age
of uncertainty and deep political division. Bombarded with news
of turmoil in Washington, terrorist atrocities, and mass shootings, it’s understandable that many people retreat to predictable
fantasy worlds like Star Wars—where the light and dark sides of
The Force have been doing battle for 40 years—or the Marvel
Universe, where the superheroes of their childhood comic books
are still vanquishing villains. But leave the theater or turn off the
TV, and the real world—where the plotlines are always messy
and reboots are rarely allowed—is still there.
Theunis Bates
4 Main stories
North Korea’s offer to
denuclearize; French
President Emmanuel
Macron talks Iran in
Washington; Trump bulks
up his legal team
Editor-in-chief: William Falk
Managing editors: Theunis Bates,
Carolyn O’Hara
Deputy editor/International: Susan Caskie
Deputy editor/Arts: Chris Mitchell
Senior editors: Harry Byford, Alex
Dalenberg, Andrew Murfett, Dale Obbie,
Hallie Stiller
Art director: Dan Josephs
Photo editor: Loren Talbot
Copy editors: Jane A. Halsey, Jay Wilkins
Researchers: Christina Colizza, Joyce Chu
Contributing editors: Ryan Devlin,
Bruno Maddox
6 Controversy of the week
Can Starbucks overcome
racial bias through
employee training?
EVP, publisher: John Guehl
7 The U.S. at a glance
Trump’s VA nominee
struggles; shooting spree at
a Tennessee Waffle House
8 The world at a glance
Britain welcomes a new
royal baby; Natalie
Portman angers Israel
10 People
Iggy Azalea on being hiphop’s most hated woman;
Spain’s real-life Mowgli
11 Briefing
Is Trump right that there’s
“no evidence” that his
campaign colluded with
AP (2)
12 Best U.S. columns
Democrats discover
states’ rights; Trump’s
immigration bully squad
14 Best European
How the Irish border
could scuttle Brexit
16 Talking points
Nikki Haley’s show of
defiance; the Comey
memos; will Trump’s
longtime “fixer” flip?
Managing editor
The Trumps welcome the Macrons to the White House. (p.5)
23 Books
The troubles and
triumphs of Texas
27 Food & Drink
A one-pot dish that makes
any dinner a party
24 Author of the week
A comic writer on his
very unexpected Pulitzer
28 Travel
Trying to spot Clooney on
Italy’s Lake Como
25 Film & Stage
Harry Potter and the
Cursed Child casts its
spell on Broadway
29 Consumer
The best box-set gifts for
Mother’s Day
26 Television
The Karate
Kid returns
in YouTube’s
Cobra Kai
32 News at a glance
A search-powered profit
surge at Alphabet; Mattel
gets another new CEO
33 Making money
Budgeting for a four-legged
34 Best columns
Why oil prices are on the
rise; Wells Fargo has been
punished enough
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Samuel Homburger
Account directors: Shelley Adler,
Lauren Peterson
Account manager: Alison Fernandez
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Research and insights manager: Joan Cheung
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Yuliya Spektorsky
Programmatic manager: George Porter
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Leslie Guarnieri
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THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The main stories...
Kim puts denuclearization on the table
What happened
moon that the U.S. president accepted his
offer of head-to-head talks, as it gives him
President Trump this week expressed cautious
the “legitimacy and prestige” he and his
confidence that a planned head-to-head sumregime have always craved. Ultimately,
mit with Kim Jong Un will lead to a deal in
there’s no way Kim will “willingly divest
which North Korea completely surrenders its
himself of nuclear weapons,” which he
nuclear weapons. The North Korean dictator
sees as integral to his personal survival, his
announced last week he was shutting down a
foreign policy, and his country’s “whole
nuclear-testing facility and suspending nuclear
self-identity.” Secretary of state nomiand intercontinental ballistic missile tests; he’s
nee Mike Pompeo and national security
also signaled that he is open to denuclearizaadviser John Bolton probably understand
tion if he receives guarantees his regime will
that. Does Trump?
not be attacked or toppled. Trump said the
two countries were having “good discussions,”
What the columnists said
and praised Kim for being “very honorable.”
Kim is playing Trump “like a StradivarBut he warned he would walk away from
Kim: Is he serious, or just stalling for time?
ius,” said Max Boot in The Washington
the summit—loosely scheduled for late May
Post. The North Korean dictator knows our president thinks “he
or early June—if he felt Kim wasn’t serious about giving up his
alone can bring peace to the Korean Peninsula,” and that he’ll
nuclear bombs and ICBMs. U.S. officials said the administration
seize on any apparent concession by Pyongyang as proof of his
favored a “big bang” deal, under which both sides would make
dealmaking genius and superiority to previous presidents. So Kim
major concessions early on—such as a trade of sanctions relief for
is simply “stringing Trump along” with “vague promises he has no
Pyongyang in exchange for concrete steps toward the dismantling
of the regime’s nuclear program. “We’ll see,” said Trump. “Maybe intention of keeping”—probably to buy more time to perfect his
ICBMs’ ability to deliver nuclear payloads to U.S. cities.
it will be wonderful or maybe it won’t.”
What the editorials said
“Little Rocket Man” may have blinked, said the New York Post.
Granted, the portly dictator’s good-faith gesture to halt nuclear
tests and ICBM launches is “easily reversible.” But the fact that he
is also putting out “feelers” about peace, and recently told South
Korea he wouldn’t insist on a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces,
is cause for encouragement. The U.S. and U.N. sanctions have
hit the regime hard, with “factories closed” and “military units
stranded without fuel.” While we should be wary of trusting this
sinister regime, Pyongyang may be “getting ready to fold.”
Don’t be fooled, said The Weekly Standard. Kim must be over the
It wasn’t all bad
The Kim-Trump negotiations are bound to end in “disaster,” said
Fred Kaplan in Trump thinks international politics is
like real estate, and is based “on personal relations” between the
principals, when it’s actually based on “interests.” It’s not in Kim’s
interest to surrender the nukes he and his father have spent decades
and billions developing. Yet Trump thinks if he can get in a room
with Kim, he’ll talk him into major concessions. When that fails,
the embarrassed Trump will resume his “fire and fury” threats.
The Kim-Trump summit is “more likely to reframe” the 70-year
Korean standoff “than to end it,” said Walter Russell Mead in The
Wall Street Journal. Pyongyang will likely accept denuclearization
“as a goal,” in exchange for the U.S. lifting some sanctions right
away and starting negotiations for a peace treaty. The key is the
ICBM program. If Kim agrees to maintain his freeze on missile
tests, Trump can “claim a win,” as he will have prevented North
Korea from developing nukes that can hit U.S. cities. Critics will no
doubt complain that this is more “can-kicking than peacemaking.”
But in diplomacy, “sometimes kicking is all you can do.”
QAt 95 years old, Canada’s oldest blood donor is happy to
keep on giving. Beatrice “Granny Bea” Janyk has been donatQHeavy winds and a freezing downing blood ever since her husband nearly died from a sawmill
pour couldn’t stop a cancer survivor
accident in the 1940s. She’s given blood more than 200 times
from finishing the Boston marathon
to no fanfare, but last week Canadian blood services honored
last week. Mary Shertenlieb, who has
her with a special ceremobeaten leukemia three times in the
ny and pin. “Knowing that
past five years, was nearly 16 miles
I can save someone’s life,
into the rain-soaked race when hypothat’s so important,” says
thermia took hold and medics recomthe great-grandmother,
mended she quit. Her husband, Rich,
who takes no medications
suggested she warm up at home
so her O-positive blood can
and finish the remaining miles later
be used for children and
that night. At 12:18 a.m., the couple
infant transfusions. Janyk’s
crossed the finish line together. “I
message to anyone who’s
just burst into tears,” Shertenlieb
afraid of giving blood is
says. “I never thought I would feel
simple: “No pain, 20 minthis happy being in last place!”
utes, then you’ll gain.”
Granny Bea: Still donating
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
QEighteen years ago, Fatima
Faruq was too busy raising her
newborn son to make it to senior
prom. Her son, Nassir, never
forgot that she missed out on
that special night for his sake,
so when senior prom rolled
around this year at his Pennsylvania high school, he asked his
36-year-old mom to be his date.
Faruq builds military helicopters
for a living and normally wears
a baseball cap, but for the party
put on a glam wig and custommade green gown that matched
Nassir’s tuxedo. “I wanted her to
feel young again,” says Nassir. “I
didn’t want her to miss out.”
Illustration by Fred Harper.
Cover photos from AP, Nokia (2), AP
Newscom (2)
Kim was expected to meet this week with South Korean President
Moon Jae-in to negotiate a possible peace deal to formally end the
Korean War, which was brought to a halt by an armistice in 1953.
To show the thaw was real, the two countries set up a telephone
hotline between their leaders for the first time, and Seoul turned off
the loudspeakers broadcasting propaganda along the border.
... and how they were covered
Macron pitches Trump on new Iran deal
What happened
What the columnists said
After a chummy visit from his favorite world
Having wowed Trump last year in Paris with his
leader, French President Emmanuel Macron,
friendliness, his strong handshake, and a rousing
President Trump said this week he would
military parade, Macron has more influence with
consider a deal to preserve the Iran nuclear
the U.S. president than any other leader, said
pact if Tehran agreed to new concessions.
Robert Malley and Colin Kahl in TheAtlantic
Trump hosted Macron for talks and the
.com. But that’s still not much. Macron was only
in the U.S. for a few days. Iran hawks such as
first state dinner of his presidency, and with
new national security adviser John Bolton and
Macron laying on the flattery, the two apMike Pompeo, the likely next secretary of state,
peared to have forged a warm bond despite
can whisper in Trump’s ear whenever they want,
differences over trade, climate change, and
and push the president to make “an ideologically
the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. That deal lifted
The new special relationship
inspired” decision to kill the Iran deal.
sanctions on Iran in return for an end to its
uranium enrichment program and constraints on its ability to develop nuclear weapons. Macron’s goal for the visit was to persuade That would be Trump’s most reckless act yet, said USA Today in
Trump, who calls the pact “the worst deal ever,” not to unilateran editorial. Negotiated over two years and involving all members
ally abandon it on May 12, when the U.S. president must recertify
of the United Nations’ Security Council, the complex deal is the
Iran’s compliance with the agreement. Macron proposed bolsteronly thing keeping “one of the world’s most threatening regimes
ing the deal with an additional pact that would address Trump’s
from developing the world’s most terrifying weapons.” If the U.S.
concerns: It would restrict Iran’s missile program and its military
quits, Iran will resume its nuclear program, sparking “a Middle East
actions across the Middle East, and extend the ban on nuclear
nuclear arms race” that could lead to a major war. And what incenactivity beyond 2025, when the current deal expires.
tive would North Korea have to sign a similar denuclearization deal
with a president “who so cavalierly breaks America’s word?”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the idea, calling
Trump a “tradesman” who has “no clue about the law or interYet there’s reason for “cautious optimism,” said Jennifer Rubin in
national treaties,” and threatening “severe consequences” for Accepting Macron’s proposal would allow
U.S. withdrawal from the pact. Trump responded with his own
Trump to say he’s kept a key campaign promise by making a bad
threat—“they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid”— Obama deal much tougher on Iran. Plus, “Trump likes being liked,”
and refused to say whether he would ultimately support Macron’s
and by staying in the deal he will please both Macron and German
proposal. “Nobody,” Trump said, “knows what I’m going to do
Chancellor Angela Merkel, also visiting Washington this week.
on the 12th.”
“Maybe as a reward, Macron could throw him another parade.”
Giuliani seeks end to Russia probe
What happened
What the columnists said
President Trump brought in fresh reinforcements to help him
contend with the investigation into Russian election meddling,
adding two criminal defense attorneys and former New York City
Mayor Rudy Giuliani to his legal team. Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, told reporters that he hoped to negotiate an end to special
counsel Robert Mueller’s probe within weeks “for the good of the
country.” Giuliani has known Mueller for three decades—they
worked together in the Reagan Justice Department and following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Mueller was FBI director.
The pair met this week to discuss a discuss a possible presidential
interview by the special counsel, although Giuliani cautioned that
Trump remained resistant to such an interview.
Giuliani’s bluster sounds like “wishful thinking,” said John Cassidy in The White House wants to promote the
narrative that the Mueller investigation is wrapping up and “the
president is largely in the clear.” But Trump’s hiring two experienced criminal defense attorneys in addition to Giuliani suggests
that he’s “girding for a lengthy battle.” Even Rosenstein’s assurance that Trump isn’t being personally investigated at this time
“doesn’t necessarily mean very much.” The president could become a target at any time, depending on what investigators find.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly told President Trump during a White House meeting last week that he isn’t
a target of the Russia probe or the investigation into his longtime
lawyer Michael Cohen. After that meeting, Trump reportedly told
advisers that he sees no immediate need to remove Mueller or
Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe. Nevertheless, questions
continued to swirl around Trump’s ties with Russia. Bloomberg
.com reported that flight records show Trump stayed overnight in
Moscow after a 2013 Miss Universe pageant, contradicting the
time line he provided to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump
repeatedly told Comey that salacious rumors in the Steele dossier
about him partying with Russian prostitutes after the pageant
couldn’t be true, because he left for New York the same night.
But “the odds of that happening decline by the day,” said Michael
Goodwin in the New York Post. After a nearly year-long investigation, Mueller has unearthed no evidence that the president committed a crime. Yet the special counsel seems intent on keeping this
probe going endlessly, searching through Trump’s “entire life with
a fine-tooth comb” until he finds him guilty of something. That’s
why it was refreshing to hear Giuliani effectively say, Wrap it up.
Amid all this, America owes Rosenstein and Attorney General
Jeff Sessions “a debt of thanks,” said David French in National Both men have held firm in the face of withering
attacks from a president of their own party to protect the integrity
of Mueller’s investigation, with Sessions reportedly telling Trump
that he would resign if Rosenstein were fired. “There’s reason to
have confidence that the rule of law will prevail, and the political
chips will fall where they may.”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Controversy of the week
Starbucks arrests: A case of ‘implicit bias’?
it can be to get white people to even acknowlEven in 2018, said Mikki Kendall in
edge the reality of implicit bias,” Starbucks’, blacks and whites live
bold stand deserves “a standing ovation.”
in two different Americas—“and in one you
can get arrested for sitting in a Starbucks.”
No, it doesn’t, said Kyle Smith in National
The latest proof that racism is alive and well Every honest observer knows
came last week in a Philadelphia branch of
that being black in America is a “burden
the ubiquitous coffee chain. Two 23-yearthat you carry with you at all times.” But
old black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte
the reaction to this single incident has been
Robinson, arrived early at Starbucks for a
“unhinged.” How does anyone know that
business meeting and sat at a table to wait for
“implicit bias” caused the manager to ask the
a third party. Two minutes later, the manager
Nelson, Robinson: Arrested for trespassing
two men to leave? What if she was simply
came over to ask if they were going to order
following Starbucks’ official, if often unenforced, policy on table
anything, and when Nelson and Robinson said no, the manager
told them to leave. She then called the police, who arrested the pair use by noncustomers? Surely these are questions worth investigating before 170,000 employees are sentenced to re-education camp.
for “trespassing” and detained them for eight hours. Cellphone
“Implicit bias” is “Orwellian junk science,” said David French,
videos of the arrests triggered protests, threatened boycotts, and
also in Studies show people’s scores on tests
public contrition from Starbucks’ upper management. CEO
designed to measure unconscious racism change from test to test
Kevin Johnson apologized to Nelson and Robinson in person,
and have little value in predicting their behavior. There’s also someannounced that the offending manager has been fired, and that
thing very creepy about a corporation “attempting not just to cormore than 8,000 Starbucks stores will close on May 29 so that
rect its employees’ behavior but to reform their minds.”
170,000 employees can receive “racial-bias education.” That corporate damage-control campaign may save Starbucks’ image, said
Fine—let’s stop blaming “implicit bias,” said Shamira Ibrahim
Karen Attiah, also in, but let’s be honest.
The routine harassment people of color experience in public spaces in The whole concept only enables white people to
dismiss racism as a “mere accident of psychology,” rather than
“isn’t a Starbucks problem. It’s an America problem.”
a purpose-built system of oppression and double standards that
has yet to be dismantled. The fact that this all played out in a
Still, Starbucks deserves a lot of credit, said Leonard Pitts Jr. in the
Miami Herald. Kevin Johnson and Howard Schultz, the chain’s bil- coffee shop is a grim “irony of ironies,” said Anthony Stanford
lionaire founder, could easily have blamed this debacle on the man- in During the civil rights movement in the
1950s, blacks were spat on and arrested for trying to order coffee
ager and declared the matter resolved by her firing. Instead, both
bravely identified the real issue as “implicit bias”—the unconscious, at a Southern lunch counter. How far have we come since those
pervasive racism that causes even well-meaning white Americans to shameful days? In the America of 2018, two black men were just
view black people as lesser, dangerous Others. “Given how difficult humiliated and arrested for “not ordering a cup of coffee.”
QPenn State University has
banned its venerable Outing
Club from taking outdoor trips,
on the ground that they’re too
dangerous. The club, founded
in 1920, has logged tens of
thousands of miles of studentled hiking, canoeing, and
camping expeditions. But after
an “assessment of risk management,” PSU announced
that the club’s activities “are
above the university’s threshold of acceptable risk.”
QA Massachusetts preschool
has banned children from using the term “best friend.” Parent Christine Hartwell says she
learned about the ban from
her 4-year-old daughter, who’d
come home sad from her day
at the Pentucket Workshop
Preschool. When the Hartwells
complained, school officials
explained that “best friend,”
“even when used in a loving
way, can lead other children to
feel excluded.”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Good week for:
Primate grooming, when President Trump plucked what he
called a speck of “dandruff” from the shoulder of visiting French
President Emmanuel Macron. “We have to make him perfect,”
said Trump, while Macron grinned awkwardly.
Juvenile astronomy jokes, with the announcement by planetary scientists that Uranus smells. The planet’s atmosphere, scientists say, is filled with hydrogen sulfide, the gas that gives rotten
eggs and flatulence a distinctive odor.
Legal corruption, after Trump administration official Mick
Mulvaney urged bank executives to increase their donations to secure
favorable legislation. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money,
I didn’t talk to you,” Mulvaney said of his own time in Congress.
Bad week for:
Illegal corruption, after former public employee Gilberto
Escamilla, 53, of San Antonio, was sentenced to 50 years in prison,
for using taxpayer funds to buy $1.25 million worth of fajitas over
nine years, which he resold for profit. “It started small and got bigger and out of control,” Escamilla explained.
Leaving the driving to us, when a Greyhound bus left
Cleveland bound for New York City and ended up, seven hours
later, after a series of wrong turns and mechanical problems, in
Toledo, which is in the opposite direction.
Smuggling, after a Colorado woman was fined $500 because she
took an apple from an in-flight meal into the U.S. The Customs
officer “asked me if my trip to Paris was expensive,” said Cynthia
Tadlock. “Then he said, ‘It’s about to get a lot more expensive.’”
DNC sues over alleged
Russian collusion
The Democratic National Committee sued the Russian government, the Trump presidential campaign, and WikiLeaks
this week, accusing them of
an illegal conspiracy to tilt the
2016 election against Hillary
Clinton. The lawsuit, filed in a
federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump
campaign officials, including
Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and former campaign
manager Paul Manafort, “gleefully” worked with the Kremlin
and its military spy agency to
spread emails that had been
stolen from the DNC’s servers.
President Trump is not named
as a defendant. If the lawsuit is
allowed to proceed, Democrats will have the opportunity
through discovery to seek
internal documents from the
Trump campaign related to
Russia. The Trump campaign
has called the suit a “sham.”
AP (2)
Only in America
The U.S. at a glance ...
AP (3), Newscom
Citrus Heights, Calif.
‘Golden State Killer’
arrest: Authorities say
they have a suspect in
one of the most notorious unsolved cases in
American history this
week, after arresting
a 72-year-old man
DeAngelo: Charged
they believe is the
“Golden State Killer,” a serial rapist and
murderer who terrorized California during the 1970s and ’80s. Joseph James
DeAngelo, a former police officer, was
arrested at his home in Citrus Heights,
near Sacramento, and is being held without bail. Police said that they have DNA
evidence that links DeAngelo to the
string of attacks attributed to the Golden
State Killer, also known as the East Area
Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.
Between 1976 and 1986, the attacker
committed 12 murders, 45 rapes, and
120 residential burglaries, often
methodically planning attacks
on victims in their own homes.
“The magnitude of this case
demanded that it be solved,”
said Sacramento County
District Attorney Anne Marie
Schubert. “We found the needle in the haystack, and it was
right here in Sacramento.”
Waffle House shooting: After a massive search lasting nearly 34 hours, police
arrested a 29-year-old
man accused of killing four diners and
wounding four others
with an AR-15 assault
rifle at a Waffle House
this week. Travis J.
Reinking surrendered
to authorities in a
wooded area about a
mile from the site of
the massacre. Reinking opened fire early
Sunday morning, naked except for a green
jacket, running away after an unarmed
customer wrested the weapon away from
him. Authorities said Reinking had a history of mental illness and had called himself “a sovereign citizen”—a term used by
right-wing extremists. He was arrested in
Washington, D.C., last July after entering
a restricted area near the White House,
telling officers that he needed to meet
with President Trump. Local police seized
four guns from Reinking in August, turning them over to his father. Reinking’s
father said he later returned the seized
weapons to his son, including the AR-15
he used in the shooting.
New York City
Hannity’s empire: Fox News talk show
host Sean Hannity has amassed a realestate empire worth at least $90 million
that is hidden behind a complex web of
shell companies, The Guardian reported
this week. Over the past decade, companies linked to Hannity have bought more
than 870 homes in seven states, from
luxury mansions to low-income rental
apartments. Dozens of properties were
purchased after banks had foreclosed on
their owners in 2013. Other properties
were financed with government mortgage guarantees from the Department of
Housing and Urban Development during
the Obama administration, leading some
critics to mock the staunchly conservative
host and Trump defender as “Handout
Hannity.” “It is ironic that I am being
attacked for investing my personal money
in communities that badly need such
investment,” Hannity said in a statement.
He said he doesn’t trust the stock market.
Norristown, Pa.
Bill Cosby retrial: Jurors began deliberations this week in comedian Bill Cosby’s
retrial on sexual assault charges, the first
high-profile celebrity court case since the
beginning of the #MeToo movement.
Cosby’s first trial ended in a mistrial
last year after jurors failed to come to a
verdict after 52 hours of deliberations.
Cosby stands accused of three counts of
aggravated sexual assault against former
Temple University employee Andrea
Constand, who claims the comedian
drugged and sexually assaulted her at
his home in 2004. Unlike in the previous
trial, prosecutors were allowed to call five
other witnesses who had accused Cosby
of similar assaults. Defense attorneys
depicted Constand as “a con artist” motivated by money, while urging jurors to
focus on the narrow facts of the case and
not connect it to #MeToo. “Bad things
definitely happen,” said Cosby lawyer
Kathleen Bliss. “But, ladies and gentleman, not every accusation is true.”
Washington, D.C.
Travel ban case: The Supreme Court
heard arguments on
Trump’s travel
ban for the
first time this
week, with
the conservative majority
Protesters outside the court
appearing to
side with the White House. The case,
Trump v. Hawaii, concerns the third
iteration of Trump’s travel ban issued last
fall, which bars most travelers from eight
countries from entering the U.S. Of those
countries, six have Muslim majorities.
Lawyers for the challengers of the federal ban argued that Trump’s campaign
promise to ban all Muslims from the U.S.
showed that the order was a de facto
Muslim ban, violating the Constitution.
But Chief Justice John Roberts
and Justice Anthony Kennedy
peppered the challengers with
tough questions about why the
court should second-guess the
president’s national security decisions. Roberts also asked whether
there should be “a statute of limitations” on Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
Washington, D.C.
VA nominee struggles: The White
House physician nominated by
President Trump to lead the
Department of Veterans
Affairs refused to drop
out of consideration this
week despite serious
allegations about his
professional conduct.
The Senate Veterans’
Jackson: In trouble
Affairs Committee
indefinitely postponed
Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination
after receiving complaints from about
20 current and past employees of the
White House medical office that he created a hostile work environment, berated
junior employees, handed out sleeping
and wakefulness pills to traveling White
House staff “like candy,” and drank
excessively on foreign trips. Multiple
sources told that the Secret
Service had to intervene when a drunken
Jackson started loudly pounding on a
female employee’s door in the middle of
the night. Trump appeared to suggest
that Jackson should bow out to avoid an
ugly nomination fight—“What does he
need it for?” the president asked—but
vowed to back him when Jackson said
he wanted to fight the allegations.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The world at a glance ...
A prince is born: Royal-watchers celebrated this week as Catherine, Duchess
of Cambridge, gave birth to an
8-pound, 7-ounce baby boy, her third
child with Prince William. The couple
showed off the baby to the waiting
throngs as they left St. Mary’s Hospital
Welcome to the Windsors. in the capital only 12 hours after the
birth. The name of the baby wasn’t
immediately announced, but bookies—who correctly guessed the
names of siblings Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2—are
betting on Arthur, Albert, or Philip. The baby is fifth in line to
the throne, and Queen Elizabeth II’s sixth great-grandchild. Prince
William said he was “very delighted” about the arrival, adding,
“Thrice the worry now.”
Liverpool, U.K.
Life support battle: British courts ruled this week
that the parents of a brain-damaged toddler may
not take him to Rome for treatment despite a
plea by Pope Francis. Alfie Evans, 23 months
old, has been in a Liverpool hospital since
December 2016 with a degenerative neurological
Alfie’s parents
condition, which doctors say has destroyed his
brain. Officials at the National Health Service hospital withdrew
life support, saying additional treatment is not in the child’s best
interest. Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, said
Alfie was breathing on his own, and appealed to the pope for help.
The Italian government granted the baby citizenship and offered to
transport him to a Vatican hospital. But British courts ruled that
taking Alfie out of the country would only prolong his suffering.
No handshake, no passport: A French appeals court has upheld
a ruling denying an Algerian woman citizenship after she
refused to shake the hand of a male official at a 2016 naturalization ceremony. The woman, who has not been named in the
French press, said her Muslim beliefs prevented her from shaking the hand of a senior official at the ceremony. Officials said
the refusal showed that the woman—who has been married to
a Frenchman since 2010—was “not assimilated into the French
community,” so they denied her citizenship. She appealed the
decision, claiming it was an “abuse of power.” But earlier this
month France’s highest administrative court upheld the ruling,
declaring that officials had applied the law correctly.
Ucayali region, Peru
Shaman revenge lynching: A Canadian man was lynched in the
Peruvian Amazon last week after villagers accused him of killing a tribal medicine woman because she would not lead him
in a hallucinogenic ayahuasca ritual. The healer, Olivia Arevalo,
81, was shot near her home, and villagers believed that Sebastian
Woodroffe, 41, a Canadian who lived nearby and studied botanical medicine, was responsible. No
one witnessed the murder, and the
gun used in the crime has not been
found. A video shared on social
media the day after Arevalo’s death
showed Woodroffe pleading for his
life with a rope around his neck; his
body was found the next day. Two
men have been arrested in connecPolice carry Woodroffe’s body. tion with Woodroffe’s killing.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Asunción, Paraguay
New president, old dictator:
The son of a close aide to former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo
Stroessner was elected the country’s
president this week. Like his predecessor,
Horacio Cartes, Mario Abdo Benítez, 46, is from the right-wing
Colorado Party, which has led the country for all but five of the
past 71 years. But he has more explicit ties to Stroessner—who
ruled for 35 years until he was forced into exile in Brazil in 1989—
than do most in his party. Abdo’s father was Stroessner’s personal
secretary, and Abdo was a pallbearer at the dictator’s 2006 funeral.
On the campaign trail, Abdo refused to condemn the dictatorship
outright, but rather expressed regret about the 425 people killed
and nearly 19,000 tortured under Stroessner. Abdo defeated centerleft challenger Efraín Alegre by less than 4 percentage points, the
closest margin since Paraguay’s return to democracy.
Newscom (2), AP, Newscom (2)
Deadly van attack: In a scene of horror on a sunny
spring day, a Canadian man rammed a rented van into
pedestrians in Toronto this week, killing 10 people
and injuring 15. “Shoot me in the head,” suspect
Alek Minassian, 25, shouted at police as they arrested
him. Officers said he had no known ties to international terrorism. But the software developer was a
self-declared member of the online “incel,” or involAfter the rampage
untarily celibate, community—a group of men who
bemoan the fact that women won’t sleep with them. “The Incel
Rebellion has already begun!” Minassian wrote on Facebook on
the day of the massacre. “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot
Rodger!” Rodger killed six people and then himself in a 2014
rampage in Isla Vista, Calif.; during the spree, the 22-year-old
posted a YouTube video in which he said he was going to punish
women for rejecting him and men for regularly having sex.
The world at a glance ...
St. Petersburg, Russia
Tycoon tortured to death: A technology entrepreneur known as
“Russia’s Elon Musk” was apparently raped and tortured in prison
before he died, according to a forensic report released last week.
Valery Pshenichny, 56, was found hanging in his St. Petersburg cell
in February while awaiting trial on charges of embezzling $1.6 million in funds from a Defense Ministry contract. The prison ruled
it suicide, but the official medical report noted evidence of horrific
abuse. “Electric shock burns from a hot water–boiler cord were
found in his mouth,” the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta
reported. “Lacerations and stab wounds on his body. A broken
spine. Simply put, he was tortured.” DNA from sperm on his body
did not match any prison guard’s, so he was likely tortured by
someone brought in for that purpose. Pshenichny had originally
accused his well-connected business partner of embezzling the
money, but he was arrested instead.
Yerevan, Armenia
Leader forced out: Armenian Prime
Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned this
week after 11 days of mass street protests by angry citizens who accused him
of a power grab in the former Soviet
republic. After serving for more than a
decade as president and unable to run
again, Sargsyan engineered a constituSargsyan: ‘I was wrong.’
tional amendment that gave more power
to the prime minister and changed the presidency to a ceremonial
role. Sargsyan was named prime minister last week, and furious
Armenians rushed to the streets to protest his attempt to cling to
power. “I was wrong,” Sargsyan said in his resignation speech.
Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has called on protesters to
remain in the streets until an interim government is appointed to
oversee new elections.
AP (3), Newscom
Massacring voters: An ISIS suicide bomber killed at least 60 people
and wounded more than 120 others queuing outside a voterregistration center in a heavily Shiite neighborhood of Kabul this
week. It was the latest in a series of attacks targeting would-be
voters. Afghans must all get new voter cards because of widespread
fraud in the 2014 presidential election, and legislative elections—
now scheduled for October—have been delayed for three years
as the process drags out. Among the dead was Wakil Hussain
Allahdad, 33, a retired wrestler and father of four who was known
for rushing to attack sites to help evacuate the wounded.
Ayar Mbalom, Nigeria
Church slaughter: Armed Fulani herdsmen attacked a Catholic
church in a southern Nigerian village this week, killing two priests
and 17 worshippers and torching more than 50 houses. Clashes
between the mostly Muslim nomadic herders and the mostly
Christian settled farmers have escalated this year as climate change
has pushed the nomads further south in search of grazing land.
“Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers, is not
only vile, evil, and satanic,” said
President Muhammadu Buhari,
a Muslim from northern Nigeria,
“it is clearly calculated to stoke up
religious conflict and plunge our
communities into endless bloodletting.” The attack sparked riots
Mourning after a Fulani attack across Nigeria’s Benue state.
Portman shuns award: Oscar-winning actress
Natalie Portman shocked Israel last week by
declining to attend a major award ceremony
meant to honor her in Jerusalem, with a representative for the Israeli-born star citing her distress over “recent events” in the country. Many
interpreted her decision not to accept the
2018 Genesis Prize—which recognizes Jewish
Netanyahu critic
people who have attained excellence in their
field—as stemming from the killings of at least 37 Palestinian
protesters on the Gaza border. Some Israelis called for a boycott
of Portman’s films, and the country’s minister of public security,
Gilad Erdan, said the actress had been influenced by a “campaign of media misinformation regarding Gaza.” In a statement,
Portman clarified that she was objecting to the presence of Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the ceremony, saying she
felt compelled to “stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”
Mbabane, eSwatini
Renaming Swaziland: King Mswati III has decreed a name change
for his country, the last absolute monarchy in Africa. The land
formerly known as Swaziland is now the Kingdom of eSwatini,
which means “land of the Swazis” in the local language. Other
African countries, he said, had shed
their colonial names upon independence in favor of indigenous names.
The king announced the change
at a celebration marking his 50th
birthday as well as his country’s
50th anniversary of independence
from Britain. He explained that the
old name had caused confusion,
saying, “Whenever we go abroad,
people refer to us as Switzerland.” Mswati III: Now king of eSwatini
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Mock’s gender-fluid upbringing
Janet Mock has become one of the world’s
most visible transgender activists, said Simon
Hattenstone in The Guardian. The best-selling
memoirist and TV writer grew up in poverty in
Honolulu, never feeling comfortable living as a
young boy named Charles. She started hormone
treatments at age 15 without telling her mother.
Later, while still in her teens, she worked as a
stripper and a sex worker to raise the $7,000 she needed for gender reassignment surgery. In many ways, she feels she was lucky
to grow up in Hawaii, where there is a word, “mahu,” that is
used to describe a third gender. “It was the norm to have people
who were not male or female; people who may be in the middle
somewhere,” Mock says. She’s also grateful that she didn’t have
wealthy parents who might have paid for therapy to “right” her.
“I believed I was, and knew myself as, a young woman, even
when I had a penis,” she says. “It wasn’t as if I needed the surgery
to confirm that for me.” She doesn’t understand why some people
insist that trans people are delusional. “What’s happened to you
that, of all the things you can talk about, of all the injustices in the
world, the one thing you want to concentrate on is trans people
living their truth?” Mock asks. “How is that harming you and
your identity? Live your life and let me live mine.”
Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja longs to return to the wild, said Silvia
Pontevedra in El País (Spain). Pantoja, 72, is one of the few
documented cases of a human being raised by animals. At 3 years
old, he was sent to live with a goatherd in Spain’s Sierra Morena
mountain range. When Pantoja was about 7, the goatherd either
died or vanished, leaving him completely alone. He was taken
in and cared for by a she-wolf, with her cubs coming to regard
him as a brother. At night, he slept in a cave; during the day, he
ran with the wolves. “I only wrapped my feet up when they hurt
because of the snow,” Pantoja remembers. “I had such big calluses
on my feet that kicking a rock was like kicking a ball.” When
Spain’s Civil Guard found him at age 19, he had stopped using
human speech entirely, although he could still cry. “Animals also
cry,” Pantoja says. He now lives on a meager pension in a village in northwestern Spain. Pantoja has long wished to rejoin the
wolves, but he knows it’s not an option. They no longer recognize
him as one of their own. “If I call out to them, they are going to
respond, but they are not going to approach me,” he says. “I smell
like people, I wear cologne.”
QDisgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong
will pay $5 million to the federal
government to settle allegations
that he defrauded taxpayers by
cheating his way to multiple
Tour de France titles under the
sponsorship of the U.S. Postal
Service. The government
sought up to $100 million
from Armstrong after he
admitted to doping in 2013.
Armstrong has also agreed
to pay another $1.65 million
to cover former teammate
Floyd Landis’ legal costs.
Landis turned whistleblower
against Armstrong after being
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Azalea’s fall from grace
Iggy Azalea is the most hated woman in hip-hop, said Eve Barlow
in GQ. Four years ago, her debut album was nominated for four
Grammys and she was outselling Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West.
But her career has flatlined since then, with no tour and no second album. “People would like to pretend I never existed,” Azalea
says. “I don’t think they wanted me to be successful to begin with.
Because I’m a white woman from Australia.” Azalea came under
withering criticism from hip-hop fans, writers, and fellow rappers
who accused her of appropriating black culture with her affected
“blaccent” and urban-sounding rhymes. Her defensive responses
only contributed to an avalanche of bad press. Azalea, whose given
name is Amethyst Kelly, says she grew up “dirt poor” in Australia,
a high school dropout who cleaned hotel rooms with her mother
to survive. “I don’t wanna say that everyone’s feelings about racial
privilege are invalid ’cause I was poor,” she says. “I understand
that in America there is institutionalized racism and there is privilege that comes with the color of your skin. [But] I grew up in a situation that didn’t involve any privilege, and I worked really hard....
So it’s like, Where do I fit in that whole conversation? I don’t know.”
stripped of his own 2006 Tour de France title
for doping, making him eligible to receive
up to 25 percent of the settlement Armstrong paid to the government. “I am glad to
resolve this case and move forward with my
life,” said Armstrong, who recently listed his
Austin home for sale at $7.5 million.
QThe pop superstar Prince probably didn’t
realize the opioid painkiller pills he was taking were laced with the far more powerful
painkiller fentanyl, Minneapolis authorities
have concluded after a two-year investigation into his overdose death. Officials won’t
bring criminal charges in connection with the
death because they could not determine who
sold Prince the tainted pills. Prince’s personal
physician, Michael Schulenberg, helped
Prince obtain prescriptions for other opioid
painkillers, like Vicodin and Percocet, authori-
ties said. But Prince had no prescription for
the pills that killed him. “We simply do not
have sufficient evidence to charge anyone
with a crime related to Prince’s death,” said
Carver County Attorney Mark Metz.
QShania Twain apologized for saying she
would have voted for Donald Trump in 2016
if she were a U.S. citizen. The Canadian
country music star triggered a fierce online
backlash among many of her fans after telling The Guardian, “I would have voted for
him because, even though he was offensive,
he seemed honest.” Twain, who is promoting her first album in 15 years, backpedaled
when fans said they would boycott her tour.
“I regret answering this unexpected question
without giving my response more context,”
Twain said. “I do not hold any common
moral beliefs with the current president.”
Getty, Newscom, Getty
The ‘Mowgli’ of Spain
The collusion question
Is President Trump right in saying there is ‘no evidence’ his campaign team worked with Russia?
How so?
What is ‘collusion’?
Earlier in 2016, a U.K.-based professor
“Collusion” is not a legal term, and
who had been cultivated by the Kremlin
it isn’t a federal crime (except in antitold Trump foreign policy adviser
trust law). What special counsel Robert
George Papadopoulos that Russia had
Mueller’s team is investigating is whether
“thousands of emails” that would damthere was a conspiracy—“secret coopage Clinton if released. The young aide
eration” between the Trump campaign
triumphantly repeated that claim to an
and Russia in violation of one or more
Australian diplomat—whose subsequent
federal laws, including a law prohibiting
tip-off sparked the FBI’s investigation
political campaigns from receiving someinto the Trump campaign. Another key
thing of “value” from foreign nationals.
figure in this part of the investigation
The underlying question investigators are
is Roger Stone, one of Trump’s longtrying to answer is whether there was
time advisers. Stone told a colleague in
a simple quid pro quo: Russia helping
Trump, Putin: How deep a connection?
August 2016 that he had just met with
Trump win the election in exchange for
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—a claim he later denied—and
his using the power of the presidency to drop economic sanctions
three weeks later tweeted that Clinton campaign chairman John
and adopt friendly policies toward the Kremlin.
Podesta would soon have his “time in the barrel.” Shortly afterward, WikiLeaks began publishing Podesta’s hacked emails. In an
What justifies that suspicion?
interesting bit of timing, the emails were released less than an hour
U.S. intelligence agencies have already established that Russia
sought to intervene in the 2016 presidential race to hurt Democrat after Trump’s embarrassing Access Hollywood tape became public.
Hillary Clinton and help Trump. During the race and after the
election, the Trump campaign had an unusual amount of contact
What other contacts occurred?
with Russians: at least 72 emails, phone calls, and other interacSeveral Trump officials tried to set up back channels to Moscow
tions, including 19 face-to-face meetings. In his sweeping investiga- during the post-election transition. Mike Flynn, Trump’s first
tion, Mueller is looking at a number of potential crimes: whether
national security adviser, resigned when it was revealed that he had
Trump campaign officials discussed with Russia the release of
lied about discussing sanctions with then–Russian Ambassador
hacked Democratic emails, provided guidance for Moscow’s disin- Sergey Kislyak several weeks before Trump took office. In another
formation campaign on social media, or accepted laundered cammessage monitored by U.S. intelligence, Kislyak told his superiors
paign money or other help. Trump’s prior financial dealings with
that Kushner had proposed setting up a secret communications
Russians are also being examined as a possible source of influence channel to the Kremlin in a Russian diplomatic facility. Mueller is
or blackmail. So far, three Trump campaign officials have pled
also reportedly investigating contacts between Manafort aide Rick
guilty to crimes related to Russia, and several aides, including
Gates and a former Russian intelligence officer, and a January
Trump’s son Donald Jr., are known to have expressed interest in
2017 meeting in the Seychelles between Kremlin-linked Russian
receiving Russia’s help. The key question, says former federal pros- financier Kirill Dmitriev and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a
ecutor Peter Zeidenberg, is “whether this interest crossed over into Trump ally. Adding to suspicions is the degree to which Trump’s
intentional solicitation.”
aides have lied about their many Russian contacts.
What evidence is known?
In June 2016, British publicist Rob
Goldstone—who had extensive business
ties in Russia—told Donald Trump Jr.
in an email that as part of Moscow’s
“support” for his father, a Russian
contact was offering “documents and
information that would incriminate”
Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. responded
enthusiastically—“If it’s what you say I
love it”—and forwarded the message to
then–campaign manager Paul Manafort
and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.
The three men subsequently met in
Trump Tower with Goldstone and four
other people with Russian ties. U.S.
sanctions against Russia were discussed,
but Don Jr. insists the meeting produced
nothing of interest or any follow-up
contact. But even before that meeting,
it’s likely Trump’s team knew Russia had
potentially damaging “dirt” on Clinton
and the Democrats.
Was there a meeting in Prague?
A controversial intelligence dossier compiled
by former British spy Christopher Steele claims
that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer,
traveled to Prague around August 2016 to
meet with Russian officials to plan a cover-up
of their cooperation over hacked Democratic
emails. Cohen denies that allegation, insisting
he has never been to Prague “in his life.” Trump
defenders have cited Cohen’s denial as proof
that the entire dossier has no credibility. But
McClatchy newspapers recently reported that
Mueller has evidence Cohen did, in fact, travel
to the Czech Republic to meet with Russians,
entering via neighboring EU country Germany
so that his passport bore no record of the visit.
If the McClatchy report is true, it would mean
Trump’s longtime consigliere knowingly lied
about a secret meeting with Russians—a major
blow to the claim there was “no collusion.”
Federal agents recently raided Cohen’s offices
and home, carting away computers, tape
recordings, and boxes of records.
What have they said?
Top Trump campaign aide Jeff Sessions
insisted during his confirmation hearings for attorney general that he “did
not have communications with the
Russians” during the campaign, only
to later admit he’d met with Kislyak at
least twice. In a statement reportedly
dictated by the president, Trump Jr.
initially claimed the topic of the Trump
Tower meeting was “Russian adoptions,” failing to mention the offer of
“dirt” on Clinton. During the campaign, the senior Trump openly asked
Russia for help, urging Moscow in a
July 2016 press conference to “find”
30,000 Clinton emails. Does any of
this mean the president was involved
in a crime? Until Mueller releases his
findings, says Brookings Institution
senior fellow Benjamin Wittes, anyone
who claims to know “is talking out of
an orifice other than their mouth.”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Best columns: The U.S.
With Republicans dominating Washington, Democrats “have rediscovered” states’ rights, said David Davenport. While conservatives have
long championed federalism—the belief that states should have some
autonomy—today it’s progressives railing about abuses of federal power.
“In fact, many of today’s big political battles are, at their base, a federalism tug-of-war pitting the federal government against state and local
David Davenport
governments.” States, counties, and cities are actively fighting the Trump administration’s attempt to crack down on illegal immigration. State
attorneys general also took the lead challenging Trump’s travel ban.
Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal, but 30 states and the District
of Columbia have legalized cannabis in some fashion. States are even
pursuing their own climate-change policies, as the Trump administration
seeks to dismantle environmental regulation. The Left shouldn’t abandon
federalism the moment a Democrat regains the White House; state and
local control can soothe our overheated national politics by allowing red
and blue America to live and let live. “After decades of power moving
to Washington, it would be healthy and refreshing to see the pendulum
swing back toward state and local governments.”
states’ rights
Trump isn’t
likely to be
forced out
Charles Blow
The New York Times
A heartless
Michael Gerson
The Washington Post
Democrats, “I have something to tell you that you may not want to
hear,” said Charles Blow. Donald Trump is probably not going to be
removed from office by impeachment. “Yes, Trump is wholly unqualified, lacking in morality and character,” and may have been complicit
in Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election. But this is a country that has only impeached two presidents in 225 years, and both
of them—Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—survived a Senate vote
and remained in office. Even in cases of blatant presidential abuses
of power, “the public and the political class abhor impeachment.” If
Democrats win the House in November, it is possible they’ll impeach
Trump, but in this hyperpartisan climate, a conviction by 67 votes in
the Senate—where Republicans are likely to retain a majority—“is all
but impossible.” Trump’s widespread unpopularity—nearly 60 percent
of Americans disapprove of his performance—does give Democrats a
major opportunity this November “to fundamentally transform the
topography of the political landscape,” giving them the ability to block
Trump’s agenda until the next presidential election. But they will be disappointed if they define success “by Trump’s removal.”
ICE agents have become President Trump’s “personal bullying squad,”
said Michael Gerson. While Trump rages against the FBI and Justice
Department’s refusal to bend to his will, Immigration and Customs
Enforcement have eagerly responded to his promise to cleanse the nation of undocumented immigrants with a 40 percent increase in arrests.
Thousands of people without criminal records have been rounded up;
“routine ‘check-ins’” with ICE officials can end in handcuffs and deportation. Hardworking mothers and fathers with deep roots in their communities are being dragged away from weeping children. To discourage
border crossers, ICE is now deliberately separating parents it catches
from their children—some of them infants—and dumping hundreds
of traumatized kids in institutional shelters. Women and children from
Central America, fleeing drug gangs and rampant crime, are being denied asylum and locked up. ICE’s director has thanked Trump for taking
“the handcuffs off law enforcement,” but federal Judge Katherine Forrest has likened the heartless reign of terror to “treatment we associate
with regimes that are unjust. We are not that country.” Under Donald
Trump, we are that country.
“When the political process fails to perform as they would like, activists and
ideologues become disillusioned and embittered. The tragedy here is how this
dynamic has convinced tens of millions of Americans that the political system is broken. Pull back
from the granular view of events and try to examine America over the past decade and you see
something else. Democratic overreach inspires conservative backlash. Republican overreach inspires
liberal backlash. The electoral system is responsive to the views of the people. The system works. It
works by restraining excessive ambition.”
Noah Rothman in Commentary
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
It must be true...
I read it in the tabloids
QA Colorado man who
previously had been mauled
by a bear and bitten by a
rattlesnake survived his third
wildlife encounter—a shark
attack. Dylan McWilliams, 20,
was bodyboarding in Hawaii
when an 8-foot tiger shark
chomped down on his leg—
leaving a gash that needed
seven stitches. Just months
earlier, the wilderness-training
instructor had received nine
staples in his neck after a
black bear dragged him from
his tent in Colorado. Two
years before that, he’d survived a rattlesnake bite while
hiking in Utah. “I’m either really lucky,” McWilliams says,
“or really unlucky.”
QResidents of a California
up last
week to
find their
buried by tumbleweeds.
Strong winds had sent the
spiky plants rolling into
Victorville, and when the
tumbleweeds hit a fence or
a wall, they quickly began
piling up—burying yards
and reaching the secondstory windows of some
properties. “It looked like we
were being invaded,” says
resident Bryan Bagwell. City
workers armed with pitchforks tossed the plants into
garbage trucks, but when
the wind picked up, more
weeds blew in from the Mojave. “There is no stopping
them,” says resident Nancy
QPolice in Georgia are hunt-
ing for a burglar who robbed
a video game store wearing
a not-so-cunning disguise:
a clear plastic bag over his
face. Surveillance cameras
captured the man running
through the store with the
transparent wrapper on his
head. Police released the
footage and asked the public
to help identify the “craftily disguised gent,” adding,
“You can help us catch him,
once you stop laughing.”
James Quigg/The Daily Press/AP
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Admit that
refugees bring
Maritta Adam-Tkalec
Berliner Zeitung
Serbs won’t
rein in their
war criminals
Iva Puljic-Sego
Vecernji List
Best columns: Europe
You can’t wear a Jewish skullcap on your head
in Berlin without being beaten up, said Maritta
Adam-Tkalec. That’s the horrifying conclusion we
must draw from the viral video posted last week
by an Israeli Arab. Adam Armoush, who lives in
Berlin, said he wanted to prove that Jews wouldn’t
be harassed in Germany if they openly identified
as Jews, so he borrowed a friend’s yarmulke and
went for a stroll. It wasn’t long before three men,
at least one of them a Syrian refugee, began yelling “Jew” at him in Arabic and beat him with
a belt. Armoush caught the attack on film. Of
course, such anti-Semitic violence wasn’t unknown
in Germany before the 2015 influx of mostly
Muslim refugees—we’ve long struggled with the
“disgusting, extreme right-wing German hatred of
the Jews as well as leftist hatred often disguised as
criticism of Israel.” But overt anti-Semitic acts are
now more common, as the “native and immigrant
strains of anti-Semitism complement and reinforce
each other.” We do the immigrants no favor by
failing to acknowledge and denounce the bigotry
they have brought with them. Worse, we fail our
Jewish residents. Germans should all don the yarmulke in solidarity with their Jewish neighbors.
“Civilization needs protection against barbarism.”
Croatia won’t stand for Serbian insults, said Iva
Puljic-Sego. Relations between the two countries
have been tense since the early 1990s, when
Croatia fought a war of independence from Serbdominated Yugoslavia. Things had been getting
better recently, thanks to patient Croatian diplomacy. In February, when Croatia hosted Serbian
President Aleksandar Vucic, it “gave him a princely
reception, both in terms of personal security and
respect for Serbian state symbols.” But when the
return visit came last week, the pure hatred that
still rules some in Serbia erupted. As the Croatian
delegation arrived at the Serbian legislature, ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj—a recently convicted
war criminal who is nevertheless a legislator in
good standing—tore down the Croatian flag and
trampled on it, hurling insults at the Croatian lawmakers. The Croatian politicians rightly said they
would not tolerate the affront, and the delegation
promptly returned home. The Serbian failure to
prevent the all-too-foreseeable disruption by Seselj
is inexcusable. After all, when the International
Criminal Court in The Hague found Seselj guilty
earlier this month of war crimes against Croatians
in the 1990s, he announced he was “proud of all
my war crimes” and “ready to repeat them again.”
Did Serbia “deliberately allow” the desecration of
our flag? Is it trying to provoke our wrath?
United Kingdom: Brexit stymied at Irish border
in perpetuity.” If a porous land
Will Brexit be Brexit in name only?
border in Ireland is impossible, and
asked Tim Sculthorpe and Kate Ferone in the Irish Sea untenable, then,
guson in the Daily Mail (U.K.). A
the EU says, why not keep the U.K.
“row over the Irish border” could
within the customs union? Brexit
leave Britain with no option but to
would then have no point, because
stay in the European Union’s cusEU rules would stop Britain from
toms union. That’s because when
striking trade deals with other counwe leave the EU next year, we will
tries. That is patently Brussels’ goal:
take Northern Ireland—which, like
“to make the process of leaving so
England, Wales, and Scotland, is part
expensive, so complicated, and so
of the U.K.—with us, creating a new
diluted that Britain declares to the
hard border between the EU and U.K.
world that it was wrong even to
where Northern Ireland meets Iretry.” May must not buckle to such
land. But nobody wants checkpoints
An anti-Brexit sign in Northern Ireland
bullying, said The Sun (U.K.). To
there: Their elimination was a key
quit the EU only to leave Brussels in charge of our trade policy
part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of sectarian violence in the North. Prime Minister Theresa “would be a catastrophic national humiliation.”
May’s government has proposed using drones and other devices
What choice does May have? asked Chris Johns in The Irish
to create an “invisible border” that would check vehicles and
Times (Ireland). Under World Trade Organization rules, border
goods without armed guards. Since such technology does not
yet exist, Brussels has dismissed the idea as a “Narnia” solution. checks must be implemented if Britain exits the customs union.
To avoid the restoration of a hard border, either Northern IreThe EU proposes letting Northern Ireland stay in the customs
land or the whole U.K. “has to stay within the customs and
union, which would in effect relocate the border to the Irish
single-market rules.” Everyone knows this. Yet when EU offiSea. But Northern Ireland’s staunchly pro-British Democratic
cials point out this simple truth, Brexiteers “cry foul and mutter
Unionist Party refuses that option, saying it would weaken the
about European perfidy.” This could be the thread that unravprovince’s ties to London. May—whose minority Conservative
els the entire Brexit enterprise, said Gideon Rachman in the
government depends on DUP support—says no prime minister
Financial Times (U.K.). If May eschews the customs union, we
could allow it.
will crash out of the EU with no deal, devastating our economy.
If she accepts it, her government—which is divided between
The EU just “wants to humiliate us,” said The Daily Telegraph
Remainers and Brexiteers—could fall and we might get a new
(U.K.) in an editorial. It has rejected all of May’s comproBrexit vote. “Hard-line Remainers should not give up yet.”
mise proposals because it seeks “to bind us to its regulations
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Best columns: International
Nicaragua: An uprising against Ortega
vestiges of democracy disappeared.”
Nicaraguans are in revolt, said El Deber
Ortega installed his wife, Rosario Mu(Bolivia) in an editorial. The peaceful
rillo, as vice president in 2017, an act of
student protests sparked last week by
nepotism that disgusted even die-hard
President Daniel Ortega’s planned social
supporters. Still, ousting him won’t
security overhaul—which would see conbe easy. Electoral fraud has given the
tributors pay more and retirees receive
Sandinistas a “monopoly of authorless—have now morphed into a general
ity,” including control of the national
antigovernment uprising, involving worklegislature and the judiciary. They have
ers, retirees, and business owners. A viocensored social media and cut signals to
lent response by security forces and proindependent TV stations. And they have
Ortega paramilitaries has left at least 27
“physical control of the population”
people dead, including a journalist who
through police and “organized shock
was shot while broadcasting live amid the
Student protesters at a barricade in Managua
forces” made up of Ortega loyalists.
looting and mayhem. Such horrific scenes
have shocked Nicaraguans and hardened their resolve to protest.
Ignore all this right-wing propaganda, said Alberto Corona in
In an attempt to regain control of the situation, Ortega’s governNicaragua’s state-run Yes, there are
ment scrapped its state pension reforms this week, but the demonstrations raged on. Tens of thousands of people marched in the looters and vandals causing trouble in the streets, but they won’t
capital, Managua, and other cities day after day, denouncing state undermine Nicaragua’s fundamental stability, and it’s worth askviolence and calling for regime change. They “demand justice and ing who is backing them. “The kids do not even know the party
that is manipulating them,” Ortega said this week. “Gang memdemocracy in a country drowning in poverty, economic suffocabers are being brought in and are criminalizing the protests.”
tion, and authoritarianism.”
Perhaps they even have foreign sponsors.
Ortega betrayed the people’s trust long before this bloody crackOrtega is worried—as he should be, said La Prensa (Nicaradown, said Manuel Orozco in Confidencial (Nicaragua). Back
gua). He has lost the support of the people and control of the
when his Marxist Sandinista guerrillas toppled the U.S.-backed
streets, and “this transcendental fact will change the course of
right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979, Ortega
history.” Ortega has become what he once fought against, even
was hailed as the country’s liberator, and he led Nicaragua until
using the same words Somoza used to justify bloody repression.
1990. But he just couldn’t stomach giving up power. He reHe has lost the moral authority to continue governing. “Ortega
turned to the presidency in 2007 and then insisted on running
must leave power peacefully, or he will have to leave as Somoza
for re-election, ignoring the constitution’s one-term limit. After
went”—hounded out of the country into permanent exile.
the courts allowed Ortega to bypass that rule, Nicaragua’s “few
Making us
take Taiwan
by force
Su Tan
Global Times
Our leading
British bestie
Jorge Fernández Menéndez
The U.S. had better rethink its reckless policy toward Taiwan, said Su Tan. Let last week’s live-fire
drills in the Taiwan Straits, the first China has held
in two years, be a warning. The exercise was necessary because Washington has upped “its military
and security cooperation with Taiwan to the most
intimate and dangerous level since 1979.” Not
only did the U.S. pass a law in March that allows
top Taiwanese officials to visit their counterparts
in America and vice versa—a violation of the
“One China” policy, under which the U.S. agreed
not to recognize Taiwanese sovereignty—it also
approved the sale of advanced submarine technol-
ogy to Taiwan. Such measures have emboldened
separatists in Taiwan to become “more aggressive and arrogant in their secession attempts.”
And that is dangerous for Taipei. Taiwan is part
of China and will one day be reunified with the
motherland—peacefully, we hope, but by force if
necessary. Secessionists on the island must understand the more support they receive from Washington, “the earlier they will see their doomsday
coming.” Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said recently that Taiwan is not simply a U.S. pawn, but
a chess player in its own right. If she moves toward independence, we will tell her, “Game over.”
The front-runner in Mexico’s July presidential
election already has a staunch ally overseas, said
Jorge Fernández Menéndez. Leftist populist Andrés
Manuel López Obrador, known here as AMLO,
has forged ties with Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left
leader of Britain’s opposition Labor Party. Corbyn
speaks fluent Spanish—his second wife was Chilean, and his third and current wife is Mexican—so
the men had no language barrier when they first
met two years ago. Corbyn has squired López
Obrador around London; AMLO has hosted Corbyn in Mexico. While Corbyn is certainly to the
left of López Obrador, the two share a great deal.
They both support Communist Cuba and refuse to
condemn Venezuela’s authoritarian leftist President
Nicolás Maduro. The two men are “somewhat nationalist,” and both “can turn on the populism and
know how to touch people in a moment of crisis
or vulnerability.” It’s possible that in the next year,
López Obrador will be Mexico’s president and
Corbyn will be Britain’s prime minister. If that happens, the two “would be allies who, until now, no
one on either side of the Atlantic has taken into account.” And Corbyn and AMLO will have to learn
how to handle the third, unavoidable party in that
special relationship: U.S. President Donald Trump.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
QSince January, all of the
books at the top of The New
York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list have
had one thing in common:
President Trump. Michael
Wolff’s Fire and Fury held
the No. 1 spot first, and
was supplanted by Michael
Isikoff and David Corn’s
Russian Roulette. That book
was dethroned by Dear
Madam President, a Clinton aide’s account of the
2016 race, which has in turn
been supplanted by James
Comey’s A Higher Loyalty.
QThe world’s oldest
person, 117-year-old Nabi
Tajima of Japan, died last
week. Born on Aug. 4, 1900,
Tajima was the last known
person born in the 19th century (which ended Jan. 1,
1901). There are 36 known
those aged 110 or older—
worldwide, and 18 of them
are Japanese.
The Washington Post
QMitt Romney will
face a primary election
in Utah’s U.S. Senate
race on June 26 after
failing to lock
up the Utah
nomination at its state
convention. Romney
came in second to Utah
state Rep. Mike Kennedy,
who won 50.9 percent of
the convention vote to
Romney’s 49.1 percent.
QThe richest 1 percent
of American women by
income live more than 10
years longer than the poorest 1 percent. For men, the
life-span gap between the
richest and poorest Americans is almost 15 years.
QState and local governments in the United States
have spent up to $24 billion on professional, amateur, and college stadiums
since 1990.
The Atlantic
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Talking points
Haley: Building her own brand
a woman who can stand up
Another week, “another
to Trump. That may make
humiliation of a Trump
her immune to “the ignoCabinet official at the hands
miny that has befallen many
of the president,” said Matt
a member of the Trump
Lewis in
administration.” During the
Trump’s latest victim is Nikki
2016 campaign, said A.B.
Haley, the U.S. ambassador
Stoddard in RealClearPolitics
to the United Nations. Two
.com, Haley—an Indianweeks ago, Haley announced
American—was an outspoon CBS’s Face the Nation
ken critic of Trump’s racially
that new sanctions would be
Haley: ‘I don’t get confused.’
charged rhetoric. Since he
imposed on Russian comnamed her ambassador to the U.N., she has pointpanies that may have helped manufacture the
edly “not stooped to the sycophancy most of her
chemical weapons Bashar al-Assad recently used
colleagues have.” Haley clearly intends to preserve
on Syrian civilians. President Trump reportedly
was enraged by her statement, and two days later, and burnish her reputation “for the future.”
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s new economic adviser,
said no decision had been made on new sanctions, That future might include a 2020 presidential
candidacy, said Pamela Falk in The
suggesting that Haley had been suffering from
“momentary confusion.” Haley defiantly retorted, former South Carolina governor has strong credentials, and if she can now build a reputation for
“With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” It’s
Trump, of course, who was confused—about Rus- principled independence from Trump, she could be
sia sanctions and so much else, said Dana Milbank perfectly positioned to make an “Oval Office run”
of her own. Her problem is that Trump knows
in The Washington Post. Our erratic president
it, said E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post.
obviously reversed the sanctions decision, and in
White House aides have been whispering that he’s
the process, made Haley “look like a fool.”
“uneasy with her ambition”—and that was even
before Haley pushed back hard on the sanctions.
Actually, said Molly Roberts in WashingtonPost
If she’s serious about running for president, Haley
.com, this incident was “a coup” for Haley. Not
should consider “leaving this listing ship on her
only did she force an apology out of Kudlow—a
rarity in this administration—she positioned herself own terms,” before Trump makes her look bad—
perhaps on purpose next time.
as “a truth-teller apart from a cabal of liars,” and
The Comey memos: What they reveal
“If you didn’t know better, you’d think House
Republicans were trying to sink President Trump,”
said Jennifer Rubin in
After months of pressure, GOP lawmakers last
week forced the Department of Justice to hand
over “the James Comey memos”—the former FBI
director’s contemporaneous accounts of his interactions with the president. Republicans thought
obtaining and leaking the memos would somehow
“be helpful to Trump.” Instead, the memos only
prove Comey was telling the truth all along. He
details Trump’s demands for “loyalty” and his
request that the FBI drop its investigation into
then–national security adviser Michael Flynn. He
also says the president was obsessed about the
“pee tape” described in the Steele dossier, insisting
it couldn’t exist because he was a “germaphobe.”
This really is an embarrassing own goal for
“Trump’s allies in Congress,” said David Graham
in The memos—written before
Comey was fired—bolster his credibility and damage Trump’s, which could prove crucial when special counsel Robert Mueller releases his findings.
I’m not so sure, said Byron York in the Washington Examiner. The memos show that Comey told
Trump about the “golden showers” allegation
during their first meeting together—whereupon
the salacious story almost immediately appeared
in the media. Could it be that the president
thought Comey was trying to blackmail him?
When Trump later asked Comey for “loyalty,”
perhaps he was asking for Comey to assure him of
“the confidentiality” an FBI director must provide.
Comey’s memos actually undermine the former
G-man’s story, said The Wall Street Journal in an
editorial. He assured Trump he wasn’t a leaker, yet
later leaked some of his memos so they’d wind up
in the press. Comey also admits Trump “urged”
him to investigate the pee-tape allegation, to prove
it was untrue—undermining the argument that he
was pressuring Comey to obstruct justice.
Oh, please, said Jonathan Chait in
To believe Trump wasn’t demanding personal loyalty from Comey, you have to ignore the fact that
he has publicly stated many times that he thinks
the Justice Department “should be a weapon to
protect the president’s interests.” And if Trump’s
request for loyalty was “merely an innocuous
request,” why has he spent a year denying he ever
used that word with Comey? In floating alibis
Trump himself “never thought to use,” the president’s defenders really are trying too hard.
Getty (2)
Talking points
Trump’s lawyer: Will he flip?
rate, dishing out “gratuitous
Michael Cohen, Donald
insults” and “threats of being
Trump’s longtime personal
fired” over failed deals. The
attorney, memorably claimed
president notably declined to
last year that he’d “take a
make space for Cohen in his
bullet for the president,” said
administration. Now, though,
Tina Nguyen in VanityFair
Trump’s whipping boy has all
.com. “That loyalty is now
the “leverage.” That leverage
being put to the test.” Since
could lead to a presidential
the FBI’s raids on Cohen’s
pardon, said Eric Levitz in
office, apartment, and hotel Trump has
room last month, Trump’s
Trump and Cohen in 2011
already “floated” the idea of
allies have grown increaspardoning aides caught up in the Russia investigaingly nervous that his self-described “fixer” will
tion, and this week tweeted, “I don’t see Michael
“flip”—providing prosecutors with incriminatdoing that”—that is, flipping on him. Cohen may
ing evidence on the president. Cohen has been
deeply involved in Trump’s personal and business wind up with a “‘get out of jail free’ card.”
affairs for more than a decade, paying off alleged
mistresses, threatening critics and journalists, and You know what’s weird about the Cohen story?
negotiating business deals with Russian oligarchs. asked Josh Barro in Neither
Trump nor his defenders are contending Cohen
Given that the combative lawyer could be facing
serious charges carrying long jail terms—including can’t possibly “flip” because he and Trump
“never engaged in criminal wrongdoing together.”
wire fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance
Instead, everyone around Trump essentially
law violations—Trump and his allies see him as
assumes that Cohen must have some serious dirt
a “ticking time bomb.” Jay Goldberg, the presiworth sharing. At the same time, Trump’s allies
dent’s divorce lawyer, said last week he’d warned
Trump not to trust Cohen an inch—and that on a also are ratcheting up their contention that the
president’s personal business affairs—which may
loyalty scale of 1 to 100, Cohen “isn’t even a 1.”
be richly detailed in Cohen’s emails and files—are
“‘a red line’ that special counsel Robert Mueller
The loyalty between Cohen and Trump has
always been a one-way street, said Maggie Haber- must not cross.” That warning—and the allies’
concern about Cohen’s loyalty—may well point to
man in The New York Times. The lawyer worships his boss, but Trump thinks of him as second- the depth of Trump’s legal jeopardy.
Tax cuts: Not helping the GOP
Somehow, Republicans managed to pass a tax
cut that most Americans don’t like, said Eric
Levitz in When President Trump
signed the GOP tax reform bill late last year,
polls showed it to be “even less popular than the
tax hikes passed under George H.W. Bush and
Bill Clinton.” Republicans hoped that would
change as soon as Americans started seeing more
money in their paychecks, but voters are still
dubious. Today, just 27 percent of Americans say
the tax cuts are a “good idea,” while 53 percent
think they will have a negative impact by causing
deficits to rise while lavishing disproportionate
benefits on the rich. This is a “harrowing development” for the GOP. If Republicans can’t sell
voters on tax cuts, their one significant legislative
accomplishment of the Trump era, “what are
they supposed to sell them?”
How about even more tax cuts? said Lauren
DeBellis Appell in Congressional
Republicans had to let the cuts for individuals expire in 2025 for budget and procedural
reasons, but are mulling legislation that would
make those cuts permanent. They should, because
taxpayers need to be reminded who’s on their
side. The Treasury Department estimates that
take-home pay has increased for 90 percent of
Americans. “More money in your pocket is a
winning message.” Unfortunately, that message
alone won’t cut it, said Rich Lowry in Politico
.com. The tax cuts will be almost a year old by
the midterms, and Republicans have no other
policy agenda in the works to give Americans
a reason to vote for them—despite controlling
Congress and the White House. “Republicans are
resting on their laurels, when they don’t deserve
any laurels.”
It looks like voters are no longer buying the
GOP’s “snake oil,” said Paul Krugman in The
New York Times. For decades, Republicans have
sold tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations as
a magical elixir that produces so much economic
growth that they pay for themselves, and trickle
down into big pay raises for the middle class.
But the deficit is now projected to soar to more
than $1 trillion by 2020, thanks in large part to
the tax bill. Corporations are pocketing billions
in tax relief, without sharing much of it with
employees. So what will Republicans run on in
the midterms in November? Expect more whiteidentity politics. In the Trump era, it’s all the
GOP has left.
Wit &
“Freedom is a fragile thing
and is never more than
one generation away
from extinction.”
Ronald Reagan, quoted in the
National Review
“So convenient a thing to
be a reasonable creature,
since it enables one to
find or make a reason for
every thing one has
a mind to do.”
Benjamin Franklin, quoted in
the San Francisco Chronicle
“To write is to sell a ticket
to escape, not from the
truth but into it.”
Novelist Alexander Chee,
quoted in
“It is better to offer no
excuse than a bad one.”
George Washington, quoted in
the Clearwater, Fla., Beacon
“The use of a life is to
spend it for something
that outlasts it.”
William James, quoted in
“An archaeologist is
the best husband any
woman can get. The
older she gets, the more
interested he is in her.”
Agatha Christie, quoted in
The New York Times
“Doubt can motivate you,
so don’t be afraid of it.”
Barbra Streisand, quoted in
Poll watch
QIn a survey of infrequent or unregistered
voters, 56% think the
country is on the wrong
track. Yet 83% of respondents say they are “not
very likely” or “not at all
likely” to vote in the 2018
midterms. 63% say they
don’t pay attention to
politics “because nothing
ever gets done,” while
68% say it’s “because it’s
so corrupt.”
Suffolk University/USA Today
Q78% percent of Americans say teachers in this
country are underpaid.
Associated Press/NORC
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
would-be customers and damage a brand.
A recent survey found that 22 percent of
respondents would not spend money on
a business after reading a single negative
review. After three bad reviews, the number jumps to 59 percent.
How should businesses respond?
Most diners check
a restaurant’s reviews
Briefing: The review revolution
Consumers are increasingly relying on online reviews to
make decisions about where to shop, eat, and do business.
Experts say they should embrace reviews,
good or bad. “The biggest fear is not a
positive or negative review; it’s no review,”
said Ken McGarrie, of the consulting firm
Korgen Hospitality. In fact, businesses
can improve their image by engaging with
reviewers—thanking those who left positive
comments and apologizing and working
with those who posted complaints. “Every
business gets negative reviews. Yours will,
too,” said Valerie Vallancourt of Outsell,
a marketing platform for the automotive
industry. “Whether they affect future buyers’ decisions is entirely based on how you
respond.” In one survey, 78 percent of
online reviewers said that seeing a business
respond to reviews made them trust that
business more.
How important are online reviews?
Is it possible to encourage positive feedback?
Consumers are more likely to take the time to complain about
a bad experience than they are to praise a good one. But small
nudges can help. If you are a small-business owner, inviting customers to leave “feedback,” as opposed to a review, can be an
effective strategy. And don’t wait too long; customers are more
likely to give you their opinion online right after a sale or visit.
You can also follow up with an email asking for a review and noting how important feedback is to the services you provide.
Are fake reviews a problem?
Yes. Some businesses try to cheat by buying or posting fake
reviews—whether positive ones for themselves or negative ones for
competitors. The big forums, including Yelp and Amazon, have
systems that try to flag and block such fraudulent posts, as well
Why are reviews so influential?
as ones that highlight when reviews come from verified customConsumers want to know whether they can trust a business
ers. Search consultant Jason Brown runs Review Fraud, a website
before they shop, and they want to be able to compare services
dedicated to reporting businesses that buy fake reviews to the
and products. Think about your own buying habits. When was
Federal Trade Commission. “It’s
the last time you tried a new restauabout preventing people from getrant or bought a new pair of pants
An end to ‘gag’ clauses
ting taken advantage of,” he said.
or a TV online without looking at
In 2014, a hotel in upstate New York went viral for all
Meanwhile, small-business owners
the reviews first? These ratings are
the wrong reasons. It had a stated policy of charging
who suspect reviews are fake can
also more visible than ever before; a
couples who booked weddings at the venue $500 for
flag them for the forums to deal
Google search for “plumber near me” any negative reviews left by their guests. When the
with. But they might also opt to
returns star-rated results under a map, hotel tried to enforce the policy, more than 3,000 1-star
treat them as though they were
so reviews are front and center before
reviews poured in from all over the country. That was
an extreme response, but such “gag” clauses, buried
real. “If a real customer posts a
consumers even click. A slew of
in vacation-home contracts and other user agreements,
negative review of an unhappy
positive reviews can be a springboard
were becoming increasingly common—until Congress
experience with your business, and
for success. Consumers are likely to
stepped in. In December 2016, lawmakers passed the
you incorrectly accuse the reviewer
spend 31 percent more at businesses
Consumer Review Fairness Act, which blocks busiof being fraudulent, the hit to your
with excellent reviews, according to
nesses from inserting sweeping language into agreecompany’s reputation will go from
BrightLocal. Even a one-star bump
ments that punishes consumers or threatens them with
bad to much, much worse,” said
in ratings can add 5 to 9 percent of
legal action for leaving a negative online review.
John Swanciger, CEO of online
revenue to a small business’s books.
small-business resource Manta.
Conversely, bad reviews can deter
18 | THE WEEK May 4, 2018
For small businesses in particular, they can mean the difference
between failure and success. Any small-business owner will tell you
that social review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List
can be invaluable for attracting new customers. In a 2017 survey,
97 percent of consumers said they looked at online sites for information on local businesses, according to consulting firm BrightLocal,
and 85 percent said they trust online reviews as much as personal
recommendations. Because positive reviews have such a big impact
on consumers’ decisions, they can help smaller shops compete with
their much bigger rivals, despite vastly different advertising and
marketing budgets. Reviews “level the playing field between chains
and independent businesses,” said Brett Hollenbeck, an assistant
professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Smartphones: No-frills phones are back
pay for purchases. It’s the “less is more” theory
Are you tired of touch screens, app updates,
of phone ownership; you stay connected but
and incessant push notifications? asked Brian
get “something a little less intense” than the
Chen in The New York Times. You’re in luck:
sensory overload of an attention-sucking
The budget phone is making a comeback.
smartphone. If you want a phone under
With the latest iterations of both Apple’s
$100, you’re no longer “doomed to limpand Samsung’s flagship smartphones flirting
ing along with leftover software,” said Rob
with the $1,000 mark, plenty of consumers
Pegoraro in USA Today. Google has rebuilt
are deciding they “don’t want to splurge on
its Android operating software “to stay rea fancy phone every few years.” So they’re
sponsive on low-end hardware,” so the latgoing retro—and finding that cheaper
est no-frills phones can handle Google apps
phones “have never been better.” In an age
such as Maps, Gmail, and Google Assistant
when everyone seems glued to a screen, the
with “less storage and memory.”
humble flip phone in particular “is turning
Retro returns: The new ‘candy bar’ Nokia
into a statement of protest and individualThe re-emergence of Nokia’s ultracheap feature phones is Silicon
ity,” said Scott Enman in The Seattle Times. Oscar winner
Valley’s rare “feel-good” story this year, said Brian Barrett in
Daniel Day-Lewis, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and billionaire Finnish company HMD Global recently revived the
investor Warren Buffett have all been spotted recently with the
Nokia brand and last year sold 59.2 million feature phones, a
low-tech devices. If you prize “simplicity, durability, and afford70 percent bump from 2016. Both the Nokia 3310 and 8110
ability,” a smartphone may no longer be the answer.
devices—aka the candy bar and banana-shaped phones that
“defined the pre-iPhone era”—have been reissued as “thought“It is time to take feature phones seriously again,” said David
fully designed and executed devices.” The 3310, which goes
Pierce in The Wall Street Journal. The category, which includes
for about $60, “looks just enough like the original for instant
old-school flip phones and other “formerly dumb” devices, has
gotten smarter. With retro looks on the outside for a “heavy dose recognition,” but sports a 2-megapixel camera and a web
browser. The 8110’s tiny 2.4-inch screen is a great antidote for
of nostalgia,” the phones contain upgraded tech on the inside,
the “always-on lifestyle,” and the slider mechanism “travels
giving owners the ability to not just make calls and send texts
smoothly from open to shut.” Perhaps the best throwback feabut also use a handful of modern apps. And they can summon
ture: “The battery life still nudges up against a full month.”
virtual assistants, which can call cabs, do internet searches, even
Methane leaks
from oil and
gas facilities
are “set to
be spotted
from space,”
said Damian
Carrington in
The Guardian.
The Environmental Defense Fund
plans to launch MethaneSAT, a satellite equipped to “scan the globe and
make major leaks public,” by 2021.
Methane is a potent greenhouse
gas, responsible for roughly a fifth of
human-caused climate change. The
EDF says that though the oil and gas
industry is responsible for about a
third of emissions, which can come
from leaky pipelines and fracking
sites, just 3 percent of energy firms
currently report their leaks. The satellite will play an important role in
detecting where emissions are coming
from. Although some government-run
satellites can detect methane, they
can’t pinpoint its source. MethaneSAT
should provide “a new level of precision” in monitoring about 50 major
oil and gas regions, covering 80 percent of global production.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Bytes: What’s new in tech
Beijing pressures its tech sector
China is on the verge of nationalizing its tech
sector, said Christopher Balding in Bloomberg
.com. Last year, 34 Chinese startups surged
into the world’s elite ranks of $1 billion–plus
valuations, and private equity and venture
capital investment there soared from $14 billion in 2012 to $120 billion in 2017. “By
many measures, China’s tech companies seem
unstoppable.” The Chinese government has
noticed, too, and is using a raft of aggressive
moves to signal it wants more control over the
industry. Communist Party committees have
become a fixture “at many tech firms,” tasked
with examining “everything from operations
to compliance with national goals.” Regulators
have also examined taking a financial stake
in the biggest Chinese tech companies, such
as Alibaba and Tencent, while the companies
themselves “have been widely encouraged” to
pump money into state-owned firms.
Apple revamps news offering
Apple is building a paid news-subscription
service it hopes can emulate the success of
its Apple Music platform, said Christina
Bonnington in In March, the company acquired Texture, a digital service often
dubbed the Netflix of magazines, which lets
users subscribe to more than 200 magazines
for $9.99 a month. Apple plans to integrate
Texture into Apple News, in order to grow
Apple’s suite of subscription services. In Apple’s most recent quarterly results, those services, including iTunes, Apple Music, iCloud,
and the App Store, earned $8.5 billion in
revenue, a 13 percent increase over last year.
“While iPhone sales continue to be Apple’s
cash cow, the services segment is catching up”
as phone-buying habits shift.
Google VR to preserve historical sites
Google is attempting to “preserve endangered
historical sites in virtual reality,” said Nick
Statt in The search giant is
partnering with the nonprofit 3-D laser–
scanning group CyArk to document and
record sites “at risk of irreversible damage or
total erasure due to human conflict and natural disasters.” The Open Heritage project will
lean on CyArk’s laser-scanning prowess to
capture data and enable the virtual re-creation
of each site. The inspiration for Open Heritage came from the destruction by the Taliban
of 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues in 2001.
Sites earmarked for similar re-creation include
a temple in Myanmar, a palace in Syria, and
Mayan ruins in Mexico.
Nokia, EDF
Innovation of the week
Health & Science
Moderate drinking isn’t healthy after all
Conventional wisdom says that moderate drinking is good for you. But a major
new study found that having even just
one drink each day could shorten people’s
lives. A team of 120 scientists analyzed
data from multiple studies, involving
nearly 600,000 people from 19 different
countries, and found that the more people
drink, the shorter their life span, CNN
.com reports. People who have an average of seven to 14 alcoholic drinks each
week can expect to die about six months
sooner, while those who have two to
three drinks per day could be shaving
up to two years off their lives. Drinking
An artist’s conception of the early solar system
Diamonds from long-lost planet
A diamond-filled asteroid that exploded in
Earth’s atmosphere may be evidence of a
long-lost “proto-planet” that orbited the
sun billions of years ago, new research suggests. Scientists speculate that in the early
days of the solar system, 4.5 billion years
ago, the first planets to coalesce from swirling gases and dust were destroyed by violent collisions and bombardments, with the
current eight planets and other bodies then
forming from that debris. A rare meteorite,
called a ureilite, found in Sudan’s Nubian
Desert 10 years ago may contain the first
evidence of the earlier worlds. Examining
the ureilite under an electron microscope,
scientists found it contained tiny diamonds
filled with impurities made of chromite,
phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides. The
pressure necessary to produce these minerals could occur only within a planet
roughly the size of Mars. Study author
Farhang Nabiei tells The Washington Post
that the asteroid has provided strong new
evidence of a previous generation of planets. “This is part of the story of how we
came to be,” Nabiei says.
Getty, NASA (2)
Atlantic current slowing
The Gulf Stream, the Atlantic Ocean current
that transports warm, salty water from the
tropics to Western Europe and America’s
East Coast like a giant conveyor belt, is
alcohol, researchers say, is associated
with a slew of cardiovascular problems,
including stroke, aortic aneurysm, severe
high blood pressure, heart failure, and an
increased risk for breast cancer and cancers of the digestive system. These findings contradict federal guidelines, which
assert that men can safely drink up to two
alcoholic drinks per day and women can
have up to one drink daily. The benefits
from drinking, which previous research
has indicated may help boost “good”
HDL cholesterol levels, are outweighed
by the damage it does, says study leader
Dr. Angela Wood of Cambridge University.
circulating at its slowest rate in 1,600 years.
The likely culprit: climate change. A team of
scientists analyzed sediment samples and fossil records from the ocean floor to determine
how deep currents and ocean temperatures
have changed over time. A separate group of
researchers directly measured ocean temperatures dating back to the late 19th century.
Both teams found that the Gulf Stream, or
Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
(AMOC), has weakened by 15 to 20 percent
over the last 150 years. Normally, AMOC
releases heat into the atmosphere and warms
Western Europe as it moves north. Once in
the North Atlantic, the water cools, sinks,
and circulates back south. This powerful current is gradually ebbing as melting
glaciers reduce the salinity and density of
the water, reports If
global warming continues to escalate, the
disruption of the current could reach “a
tipping point,” says study co-author Stefan
Rahmstorf, a climate scientist. “This is
uncharted territory,” he warns. A collapse
of the Gulf Stream could result in rapid sealevel rise on the U.S. East Coast and extreme
winters in Europe, and may have a major
impact on fisheries and ocean ecosystems.
New planet-hunting satellite
NASA began a new era in the search for
habitable worlds and alien life last
week with the launch of
a $337 million satellite
into space. The space
agency’s Transiting
Exoplanet Survey
Satellite, known
as TESS, will
spend the
next two
scanning the
skies for planets orbiting the brightest
nearby stars, The New York Times reports.
Bad news: Drinking can shorten your life span.
“If you already drink alcohol,” she says,
“drinking less may help you live longer.”
The refrigerator-size spacecraft will begin
its mission just as NASA’s Kepler Space
Telescope, which detected 2,343 confirmed
exoplanets over the past nine years, runs
out of fuel. Unlike Kepler, which stared at
a single patch of sky, TESS will divide the
heavens into 13 slices and focus on each
section for 27 days. The satellite’s four
cameras will capture telltale dips in light
that occur when distant worlds are passing in front of their star. Overall, NASA
estimates, TESS will find more than 20,000
new exoplanets, including 500 to 1,000
worlds in the habitable zone of their suns.
Scientists will then examine each planet’s
atmosphere for the chemical signatures of
life, using powerful ground- and spacebased telescopes, including the James Webb
Space Telescope, which will join TESS in
orbit in 2020.
Health scare of the week
Night owls may live shorter lives
People who habitually stay up late are
more likely to die early, a new study has
found, perhaps because their internal body
clock is out of sync with a society that
favors early risers. Researchers tracked
about 430,000 adults between 38 and 73
years old for 6.5 years. They found that
night owls had a 10 percent greater
risk of early death than those
who prefer to wake up early, reports. Those who
burned the midnight oil were more
likely to have chronic health issues, such
as diabetes, neurological disorders, and
respiratory disease. One possible reason,
says study author Kristen Knutson, is
that the pressure to conform to other
people’s work and social schedules leaves
late risers anxious, sleep deprived, and feeling as if they live in a perpetual state of jet
lag. “There’s a problem for the night owl
who’s trying to live in the morning-lark
world,” Knutson says.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Pick of the week’s cartoons
For more political cartoons, visit:
Review of reviews: Books
Great Britain that required renouncing slavery. Antigovernment sentiment has been a
theme for generations, but among its unintended consequences is an absence of zoning laws that have left Houston unusually
integrated, while also making it unusually
vulnerable to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.
Book of the week
God Save Texas: A Journey Into
the Soul of the Lone Star State
by Lawrence Wright
(Knopf, $28)
“It can be hard to explain the appeal of
our state to outsiders,” said Texas native
Michael Schaub in Journalist
and Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright
knows that all too well. Raised in Abilene,
he moved to Dallas just a few years before
John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and he
has spent the past 38 years living in Austin,
often embarrassed and repelled by the way
politics is practiced in the state’s capital.
But Wright, who’s a staff writer at The
New Yorker, is also “one of the most talented journalists Texas has ever produced,”
and with God Save Texas, he’s created a
thoughtful portrait that balances the good
and the bad. It’s “essential reading” for
anyone who believes, as Wright does, that
Texas’ outsize influence on today’s national
political culture will only grow in the
decades to come.
A Texas barn: Pride that cuts two ways
“For every stereotype Wright explores,”
he finds a counterfactual that “blows it
up,” said Colette Bancroft in the Tampa
Bay Times. Texas mostly elects white
conservative Christian men, but it’s one of
only four states where the non-Hispanic
white population is a minority. Texas
prides itself on its independent cowboycapitalist spirit, but forfeited its best chance
of remaining an independent republic
in the mid 19th century when it joined
the U.S. rather than accept a loan from
Novel of the week
Ritz & Escoffier: The Hotelier,
the Chef, & the Rise of the
Leisure Class
by Madeline Miller
by Luke Barr (Clarkson Potter, $26)
(Little, Brown, $27)
Madeline Miller’s latest reworking of
ancient myth is “a novel to be gobbled
greedily in one sitting,” said Alex
Preston in The bestselling author of 2011’s Song of Achilles
has now pushed the sorceress Circe
into a lead role. No longer a mere stop
in the grander epic of the Odyssey, the
golden-eyed daughter of the sun god
Helios has centuries of story behind and
ahead of her when Odysseus arrives on
the island she’s been banished to. She
turns his men into pigs, beds Odysseus,
and later sneers at Homer’s account of
their yearlong fling: “Humbling women
seems to be a chief pastime of poets,”
she says. Miller never cheats, said Ron
Charles in The Washington Post. She
builds her drama on events recounted
by Homer and other ancients, but “illuminates details we hadn’t noticed before.” Her Odysseus and Circe engage
in a complex, mature affair, and Miller
plays their verbal sparring “with a delightful mix of wit and lust.” We know
where all this is heading, “yet in Miller’s
lush reimagining, the story feels harrowing and unexpected.”
When the Savoy
opened in London
in 1889, “nobody
had quite seen anything like it,” said
Shinan Govani in
the Toronto Star.
The wedding-cake
hotel was the city’s
first with electric
lights, elevators, and
en-suite bathrooms.
But the revolution
the Savoy heralded would not be complete
until Swiss hotelier César Ritz and French
chef Auguste Escoffier joined the team.
Over the next decade or so, the pair redefined luxury, said Moira Hodgson in The
Wall Street Journal. At the Savoy, dining
out became theater, French cuisine became
fine cuisine, upper-floor suites became coveted, and aristocrats learned to rub elbows
with theater stars, the nouveau riche, even
women dining alone. Luke Barr’s entertaining dual portrait of the two men who
engineered the transformation “reads like a
novel, complete with cliffhangers,” but it’s
also history that charts a real social change.
Texas is, of course, “far too big to be
just one thing,” said Chris Vognar in The
Dallas Morning News. Wright asks us to
think of it as two places: “AM Texas” and
“FM Texas”—one rural or suburban and
Republican, and the other urban, multiethnic, and Democratic. He also reminds
us that Texas may be far different in 2050,
when its population will nearly match that
of California and New York combined.
There’s no need to look further for why
Wright has stayed in Texas so long despite
believing that it’s nurtured an “immature
political culture” that has already done “terrible damage” to the nation, said Andrew
Graybill in Texas Monthly. “In short, it
matters, and deeply.” In Wright’s words,
Texas is home to a culture that’s “not fully
formed” but also “growing in influence,
dangerous, and magnificent in its potential.”
Both Escoffier and Ritz came from humble
roots, said Talia Lavin in
The chef’s father had been a blacksmith,
and Ritz grew up herding goats. In a book
that “goes down as light as an aperitif,”
we quickly sense how Ritz was fueled by
his determination to escape his past. He
first paired with Escoffier, another scrappy
service-industry savant, at a grand hotel
in Monaco. While Ritz pioneered “thecustomer-is-always-right” service, Escoffier
absorbed the culinary techniques that
enabled him to wow fin-de-siècle London.
Reading Ritz & Escoffier, “it’s hard not
to drool on the pages” at the thought of
Escoffier’s foie gras, or Pêche Melba.
Ritz and Escoffier’s run at the Savoy ended
in scandal: The pair had been pocketing
kickbacks from suppliers. Even so, their
triumph has endured, said The Economist.
“Though it is the glittering beau monde
that draws the reader’s eye,” Ritz &
Escoffier creates memorable protagonists
out of two men who put themselves in the
service of others. Look up “ritzy” in the
dictionary today and you’ll see mention of a
man who was so anxious that his large feet
betrayed his peasant roots that he always
wore shoes a half-size too small. The Prince
of Wales and the Duke d’Orleans might not
have cared, “but today it is not their names
that are world-famous; it is his.”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The Book List
Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer is suddenly the rarest of artistic
figures: a comic novelist who’s
been given a major literary
award, said Ron Charles in The
Washington Post. Greer’s Less
is “laugh-till-you-can’t-breathe
funny,” a quality that typically
a novel from
Pulitzer Prize
consideration. But
the 47-yearold San
based writer
somehow broke through
last week, perhaps because
the Pulitzer judges had been
blinded to the humor by Less’
other strengths—the ones that
inspired them to characterize
its tale about failed gay novelist Arthur Less as “a generous
book, musical in its prose and
expansive in its structure and
range.” In any case, Greer
was hardly waiting by the
phone the day the Pulitzers
were announced. “C’mon—
everyone was surprised,” he
says. As he wrote on Twitter
that day: “I hope somebody
put some money on me,
because they have surely
made a fortune now.”
Not that Greer hadn’t given
the Pulitzers any thought,
said Kerri Jarema in Bustle
.com. At one point early in his
novel, Arthur is lusting for prize
recognition himself when he
recalls a moment years earlier
when his older lover received
the call informing him he’d
won the Pulitzer for poetry.
It’s all done with a light touch,
but the passage homes in on
how writers can’t help craving
awards even when they know
they shouldn’t. Greer says he’s
learned to focus instead on
simply getting something on
the page that he can be proud
of. “It’s easy to forget,” he says,
“that’s the only real pleasure
writers have.” With Less, he
felt proud even before publication. “I had no idea if anyone
would like it,” he says. “But I
thought: ‘I have written exactly
the book I wanted to.’”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Best books...chosen by Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld’s new book, You Think It, I’ll Say It, is the best-selling novelist’s first short-story collection. Below, the author of Prep, American Wife, and
Sisterland names six recent novels featuring strong-willed female protagonists.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Penguin, $16). Selin,
a freshman at Harvard in the mid-1990s, strikes
up a correspondence with Ivan, an upperclassman, through the newfangled medium of email.
Batuman makes smart and hilarious observations
about language, longing, and self-consciousness.
Make Your Home Among Strangers by
Jennine Capó Crucet (Picador, $16). In another
recent novel set in the ’90s, another freshman has
traded working-class Cuban-American Miami
for an elite college in upstate New York. Back
in Florida, an Elián González–inspired drama
unfolds; up north, Lizet navigates academic and
romantic confusion. Capó Crucet is equally brilliant writing about class, sex, and what it’s like to
experience snow for the first time.
White Houses by Amy Bloom (Random House,
$29). In this historical imagining, plucky journalist Lorena Hickok recounts her romantic relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, including stints
when “Hick” literally lived inside the White
House. Hick’s hardscrabble upbringing contrasts
with Eleanor’s privilege, but the two women are
bound to each other by a deep love that Bloom
illuminates with poignancy and humor.
Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter
(Vintage, $16). This smart, caustic novel follows
its 30-something heroine as she takes a job at a
foundation ostensibly committed to improving
women’s lives but perhaps equally invested in
nurturing its founder’s ego. Winter writes with
sharpness, nuance, and compassion about female
friendship, feminist hypocrisy, and infertility.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Algonquin,
$16). Jones’ justly acclaimed An American
Marriage is a recent Oprah’s Book Club pick; this
2011 novel is equally wonderful. Its teenage narrators are half sisters whose father is a bigamist, a
situation Jones makes complex. She also magnificently captures details of teenage girlhood that are
at once universal and specific to 1980s Atlanta.
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney
(Hogarth, $16). Frances is a student and aspiring writer who becomes involved with a married, older actor. The dialogue is superb, as are
the insights about communicating in the age of
electronic devices. Rooney has a magical ability
to write scenes of such verisimilitude that even
when little happens they’re suspenseful.
Also of authoritarians past and present
by Madeleine Albright (Harper, $28)
by Paul Lendvai (Oxford, $30)
On this book’s subject, Madeleine
Albright “writes with rare authority,”
said The Economist. The former secretary of state twice in childhood fled
authoritarian rule in Czechoslovakia,
and she deplores the sloppy use of
“fascist”—declaring that in 2018 only North
Korea’s regime qualifies. But Albright’s restraint
“does not mean she is sanguine.” Donald Trump,
she writes, is modern America’s first “antidemocratic” president, and she’s worried now
that our democratic institutions might not hold.
“In a country as inscrutable as
Hungary,” journalist Paul Lendvai
“makes a valuable guide,” said James
Kirchick in The Wall Street Journal.
His new book is a biography of
Viktor Orban that paints the prime
minister as a dangerous figure—a power-hungry
opportunist who exploits voters’ xenophobic
impulses. Though Lendvai’s distaste for the man
blinds him to the legitimacy of certain public worries that Orban’s strongman act has answered,
this is “an otherwise convincing indictment.”
The Death of Democracy
The Infernal Library
by Benjamin Carter Hett (Holt, $30)
by Daniel Kalder (Holt, $30)
It’s always worth remembering that
Hitler did not act alone in creating the
Nazi state, said Steve Donoghue in This “lean,
eloquent” history of the Nazis’ rise
underscores how would-be opponents
failed to adequately defend Germany’s democratic
institutions, whether by risking political alliance
with Hitler, echoing the contempt he poured on
“the system,” or depending on a resistance that
never materialized. This is “clear, fast-paced” history, “laden with implicit warnings.”
Reading this survey of tyrants’ writings, “one longs for the heavy boot
of a dictatorial editor,” said Bill
Marvel in Though
author Daniel Kalder deserves
points for slogging through the often
unreadable prose and poetry of Hitler, Stalin,
Mao, and many other despots, he buries us in
his findings. “Read one dictator, it seems, you’ve
read them all.” And Kalder overwrites besides.
“His book is merely interesting when it could
have been revelatory, even useful.”
Josephine Sittenfeld, Kaliel Roberts
Author of the week
Review of reviews: Film & Stage
become.” An “incredibly erotic”
The lesbian affair at the censex scene between Ronit and
ter of Sebastián Lelio’s new
Directed by Sebastián Lelio drama creates “a fascinatingly
Esti arrives late in Act 2, but “I
cannot emphasize how respectconflicted tug of war,” said
ful and immersive a portrait this
movie is,” said Jada Yuan in
.com. Rachel Weisz stars as an
Two old friends rekindle a Lelio, who just
expat whose return to London
forbidden love.
won a foreign-language Oscar
for the funeral of her rabbi
for A Fantastic Woman, presents
father re-sparks a decades-old
Esti’s faith as worthy of her pasromance with a onetime teenage
Soul mates McAdams and Weisz
sion, too, and Esti’s husband, the
friend, and Rachel McAdams
community’s likely new rabbi, is no religious tyrant.
is “something of a revelation” in the mildly underHe’d been a close friend to both women once, and
written secondary role. Her Esti long ago chose to
Alessandro Nivola delivers a “career-best” performarry and remain part of the Orthodox community
mance in the role, said Andrew Barker in Variety.
Weisz’s Ronit fled, and her performance “allows
“None of these three characters is tidy, but neither is
Disobedience to unfold as a story about Ronit
desire, nor faith, nor love.”
falling in love with the woman she didn’t want to
I Feel Pretty
Directed by Abby Kohn
and Marc Silverstein
A cracked-mirror view of
‘average’ looks
depressing.” If I Feel Pretty
Amy Schumer, as a stand-up
offends, though, “it’s because
comedian and sketch performer,
of its blandness, not its political
“has long been spot-on and ruthincorrectness,” said Aisha Harris
lessly funny about body issues
in Schumer has made
and self-esteem,” said Michael
the same joke work, just not
Phillips in the Chicago Tribune.
over and over again. Here, we
So, how to explain her now
can at least be thankful that the
headlining in this two-faced,
principle female characters don’t
“weirdly scrambled” quasiturn on one another, and that
empowerment movie? Schumer
Reborn: Schumer with Sasheer Zamata
Michelle Williams is hilarious as
plays an insecure cosmetics-firm
employee who decides, after a bump to the head, that a beauty-industry CEO with an absurdly girlish voice.
Schumer pours so much energy into her role that
she’s as conventionally sexy as she’d always wished
“it’s hard not to feel charged up, too,” said Manohla
she could be. Unfortunately, because her confident
Dargis in The New York Times. “But dear lord she
new self repeatedly struts her stuff and attracts disneeds to work with better material.”
dainful looks for doing so, “the movie is frankly
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Bleecker Street, Mark Schäfer, Manuel Harlan
Lyric Theater, New York City, (877) 250-2959 ++++
Harry Potter made his stage debut in midtown Manhattan this past weekend, and
“Broadway will never be the same,” said
Marc Snetiker in Entertainment Weekly. In
a two-part, five-hour production that now
stands as the most expensive nonmusical
ever presented on a New York stage, the
boy wizard of J.K. Rowling’s seven-book
saga has matured into fatherhood and
bequeathed the protagonist role to his
middle child, Albus. But despite Harry’s
playbill demotion, there should be no complaints from Potter devotees about how this
show extends the tale. Before it’s anything
else, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
is “a worthy play” bolstered by strong
performances. The staging, though, lifts
the experience to a higher plane. A drama
about teenage wizards calls for magical
effects, and the dozens of illusions we witness add up to a spectacle that “redefines
the possibilities of theater.”
Despite the otherworldly magic, “it is
impossible not to identify with most of
the people onstage,” said Ben Brantley in
new sidekick (a “show-stealing” Anthony
Boyle) stumble upon a time machine, they
use it to try to rewrite the past and also
to better understand their elders. Parentchild dynamics are everything here, and the
show “knows exactly how, and how hard,
to push the tenderest spots of most people’s
emotional makeups.”
Parker and Clemmett: A father-son thing
The New York Times. Harry, played by an
“irresistibly anxious” Jamie Parker, is now
a 37-year-old Ministry of Magic bureaucrat
who’s sending his son off to his alma mater
in the opening scene and has yet to make
peace with the boy’s apparent failure to
inherit the old man’s wizarding prowess.
Though Albus, played by Sam Clemmett,
will make new friends at Hogwarts, including with the nerdy son of Harry’s former
nemesis, his alienation from his father
remains a challenge. When Albus and his
Still, you’ve probably seen plenty such
intergenerational dramas before, and this
one’s awfully expensive, said Dan Kois
in Parts 1 and 2 of the show
each require separate tickets—even during weekend performances when the two
halves run back-to-back—and those tickets
run from nearly $40 to $286. So, here’s an
idea: Read the published script, so you can
skip Part 1 and its sometimes “painfully
clunky” dialogue. Part 2, besides featuring
all of the production’s “most wondrous”
effects, offers opportunity enough to appreciate what the Potter team has achieved.
“In its best, most astonishing moments,”
this show “can make audiences believe that
magic is real.”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Movies on TV
Monday, April 30
Born Yesterday
A journalist is hired to tutor
the girlfriend of a tycoon
and ends up falling for his
pupil. With William Holden
and Judy Holliday. (1950)
8 p.m., TCM
Tuesday, May 1
Denzel Washington,
Morgan Freeman, and
Matthew Broderick co-star
in a stirring period drama
about an all-black Union
infantry regiment. (1989)
9:30 p.m., Ovation
Wednesday, May 2
Nelson Mandela turns to a
rugby team for help in uniting post-apartheid South
Africa. Clint Eastwood
directs, with Matt Damon
as the team captain and
Morgan Freeman as
Mandela. (2009) 8 p.m.,
Thursday, May 3
The Social Network
How Facebook began, in
David Fincher and Aaron
Sorkin’s ingenious retelling. Jesse Eisenberg leads
a Millennial all-star cast.
(2010) 5:30 p.m., IFC
Friday, May 4
Galaxy Quest
Tim Allen, Sigourney
Weaver, and Alan Rickman
co-star as actors from a
Star Trek–like TV series
who are thrust into a reallife battle with aliens.
(1999) 11 p.m., IFC
Saturday, May 5
The Ox-Bow Incident
Two itinerant cowboys
help a town form a posse
to track down the killers
of a local cattle rancher.
Henry Fonda stars. (1943)
10:15 p.m., TCM
Sunday, May 6
Director James Cameron
imagines a future in which
an advanced alien civilization and its gorgeous
planet are threatened by a
human mining operation.
(2009) 6:10 p.m., HBO
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching
AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s
Story of Science Fiction
The genre that traffics in visions of the future
has a very rich past. In this six-part series, James
Cameron, director of The Terminator, Aliens,
and Avatar, will bring in other celebrated filmmakers and stars to explore sci-fi’s history by
looking at six big questions it has helped us
think about. Up first: how H.G. Wells sparked
our endless interest in the possibility of alien life.
Monday, April 30, at 10 p.m., AMC
Being Serena
Serena Williams has already divided the history
of women’s tennis into two eras: before and after
her arrival. Now 36 and a mother for the first
time, she is working her way back into the game
a year after winning her 39th Grand Slam title—
while pregnant. This five-part documentary series
offers an intimate look at her life now, a plush
life where there’s still room for the fear of failure.
Begins Wednesday, May 2, at 10 p.m., HBO
Dear White People
The first season of Dear White People, based on
the movie of the same name, garnered raves for
its comic portrayal of a group of black students
constantly battling the prevailing white culture at
a fictional Ivy League school. As Season 2 begins,
Logan Browning’s Samantha White and the rest
of the crew are trying to pick up the pieces in the
wake of a failed protest and explosive town hall
meeting. Master of None’s Lena Waithe joins the
cast as a wackadoodle MC on sabbatical from
a hit reality TV show. Available for streaming
Friday, May 4, Netflix
The Jazz Ambassadors
At the height of the Cold War, jazz answered the
call when America most needed it. This musicsteeped documentary revisits a federal program
that sent Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington,
Benny Goodman, and other greats on global
concert tours aimed at undermining Soviet propaganda about the racial divide in the U.S. No
doubt these cats did jazz proud, in part by refusing to lie about life back home. Friday, May 4, at
10 p.m., PBS; check local listings
Being Serena: The star at home, learning new skills
I’m Dying Up Here
Like the comedians it portrays, this drama
series about Los Angeles’ 1970s comedy scene
struggled to find an early audience. But the
rich period details and strong performances by
Melissa Leo and others argue for giving the
show another look. Brad Garrett, of Everybody
Loves Raymond, will join the cast as Roy
Martin, a legendary funnyman who partners
with Leo’s comedy club doyenne. Sunday,
May 6, at 10 p.m., Showtime
Other highlights
Independent Lens: True Conviction
In this prizewinning documentary, three once
wrongfully convicted Texans create a detective
agency to clear other innocents trapped behind
bars. Monday, April 30, at 10 p.m., PBS; check
local listings
2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
The church of rock adds more cowbell as the
Moody Blues finally win entry, along with the
Cars, Nina Simone, Dire Straits, and Sister
Rosetta Tharpe. Oh, and Bon Jovi. Saturday,
May 5, at 8 p.m., HBO
In a new drama series set in East L.A., two sisters return home when their mother dies and
learn she had a wife who’s the third co-heir of
the family bar. Sunday, May 6, at 8 p.m., Starz
Show of the week
Cobra Kai
Zabka and Macchio meet again.
What Karate Kid fan hasn’t wondered what became of Daniel LaRusso and his nemesis, Johnny
“Sweep the Leg” Lawrence? This satirical sequel, which picks up decades after Daniel-san
crane-kicked his way to victory at the under-18
All-Valley karate tournament, finds LaRusso a
successful local car dealer, while Lawrence is a
deadbeat suddenly inspired to re-open the Cobra
Kai dojo and teach his ruthless fighting style to
a new generation. Some rivalries never die. And
the ultimate kick? Both original actors, Ralph
Macchio and William Zabka, are back. Available
for streaming Wednesday, May 2, YouTube Red
• All listings are Eastern Time.
HBO, YouTube Red
Food & Drink
Salmon nabe: A one-pot that makes any dinner a party
For young people in Japan, nabemono, or
one-pot meals, have become the go-to for
entertaining, says Nancy Singleton Hachisu
in Japan: The Cookbook (Phaidon). “Effortless to put together,” a nabemono also allows
everyone at the table to participate in the
cooking, “which makes it fun.”
Turn burner to medium-high and cook at a
lively simmer until done, about 5 minutes.
Divide fish and vegetables among small
bowls, and add some broth to each bowl.
Each person should season with ponzu to
taste—1 to 2 tsp per ½ cup broth—and
sprinkle in a pinch of yuzu or lemon zest.
Replenish pot with another round of ingredients, and once cooked, ladle out second
helpings. Serves 6.
All the ingredients, including konbu (dried
kelp) and ponzu (a citrusy soy sauce), are
easy to find in American markets these
days. You can always make a nabemono at
the stove, but it’s worth investing in a tabletop burner and a donabe—a special flameproof earthenware casserole. Enjoymentwise, “you will get back above and beyond
what you spend.”
Altaimage, Newscom
Recipe of the week
Salmon nabe
½ whole salmon, gutted and scaled
2 pieces konbu (6 inches each)
2 blocks momendofu (Japanese-style soft
tofu), 10½ oz each, cut into eighths
Layered napa cabbage and spinach (recipe
below), cut into 12 pieces
½ small daikon, halved lengthwise and
sliced ½ inch thick
12 medium shiitake caps, halved
4 medium negi (long onions) or 12 fat
scallions, cut in 1½-inch lengths
Ponzu, for serving
1 tbsp slivered yuzu or Meyer lemon zest
Layered cabbage
8 large leaves napa cabbage
14 oz spinach leaves
Part soup, part abstract composition
Cut salmon crosswise diagonally at 1-inch
intervals, then into 2-inch chunks. Mound
on a platter large enough for all ingredients.
In a large donabe or flameproof Dutch
oven, combine 2 quarts water and the
konbu and bring to a boil over high heat.
Place konbu broth on a tabletop burner;
set to low simmer. Arrange tofu, layered
cabbage pieces, daikon, shiitake, and negi
on platter with salmon. Bring platter to the
table and mound half of each ingredient in
the pot of konbu broth, keeping mounds in
separate areas rather than combining them.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over
high heat. Using tongs, lower stem ends of
cabbage into the water and cook 1 minute,
then submerge leaves and cook 30 seconds.
Remove and drain in a wire-mesh sieve. Set
up a bowl of cold water. Hold stem ends
of spinach in boiling water 30 seconds,
then submerge leaves another 30. Scoop
out with a wire-mesh sieve and plunge into
cold water to refresh. Divide cabbage into
four piles and spinach into three. Smooth
a layer of cabbage across the bottom of
an 8-inch square pan. Smooth a layer of
spinach on top and continue layering,
ending with cabbage. Set pan in sink and
press firmly with your palms to remove
and drain liquid. Let sit 15 minutes before
inverting pan and cutting into 12 pieces.
Three meals in Bend, Ore.: A beer haven that’s learning to eat
Scotch: The old faithfuls
Bend, Ore., keeps inding new ways to punch
above its weight, said Dina Mishev in The Washington Post. The sunny, high-desert town of
91,000 on the Deschutes River is an outdooradventure mecca that’s become famous for its
many craft breweries. “But man cannot subsist
on beer alone, even if it’s some of the best beer in
the country,” and Bend’s chefs are stepping up to
the challenge. As a day of dining out will tell you,
“the restaurants here innovate and execute far
above what you’d expect for a former mill town.”
Downtown Bend: Big in its ambitions
McKay Cottage “There’s no beating an alfresco
breakfast here,” especially at a shaded table on the lawn. But the converted Craftsman
bungalow itself is “grandmotherly cute,” and the food’s great indoors or out. Try the
house version of eggs Benedict, made with Dijon hollandaise and a rosemary English
mufin, or French toast made from croissants. 62910 O.B. Riley Road, (541) 383-2697
Wild Oregon Foods You leave cute behind to lunch at this modern farm-to-table diner
that sits next to a Nike outlet store outside of town. But after the bison mac ’n’ cheese or
a braised corned beef slider with pickled cabbage and smoked aioli, you’ll agree that
owners Sarah and James Fink were smart to put their money in the food instead of the
real estate. “Lunch-friendly” cocktails include a vodka concoction with ginger beer and
beet juice. 61334 S. Highway 97, Suite 360, (541) 668-6344
Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails This Cajun and Creole–inspired eatery mixes Acadian classics with local provisions. Think Skuna Bay salmon with black rice, or blackened redish
with Dungeness crabmeat. Naturally, the bar serves local beers, and cocktails made
with Crater Lake spirits. 919 NW Bond St., (541) 312-2899
Remember blended scotch? asked Eric
Asimov in The New York Times. Sales
are way down in recent decades, but
blends still far outsell more celebrated
single malts, so our tasting panel recently gave 20 blends a spin. In a quality
blend, malt whisky is complemented
by the addition of grain whisky. Though
blends are far less distinctive—and
well-regarded Pinch wasn’t in our test
group—“we all found a lot to like.”
Buchanan’s Master ($48/750ml). Our
favorite blend “epitomizes the
category”: It’s “smoky but not too
smoky,” rich and creamy, and offers
lingering malt flavors.
Teacher’s Highland Cream ($24/
liter). The runner-up is a great
value, delivering “assertive
flavors of peat and malt,” plus
a pleasant smokiness.
Johnnie Walker Black Label
($55/liter). This smooth, everpopular 12-year blend offers
complex flavors of smoke,
flowers, and chocolate.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
This week’s dream: A mother-daughter vacation on Lake Como
I’m at the wheel of a sleek Cantiere
Ernesto Riva motorboat, zooming across
Italy’s Lake Como with my mother,
when disaster seemingly strikes, said Sara
Lieberman in The Washington Post. A
gust of wind has lifted some papers, and I
fear our right to pilot this gorgeous boat—
“at a whopping $190 an hour”—has just
disappeared overboard. “Mom!” I shout
over the engine. “Where is the permit?”
Digging around in the bow, she emerges
triumphant, waving the laminated papers
over her head. Relieved, we resume the
important mission at hand: trying to spot
George Clooney’s villa among the gorgeous homes that dot the shore. “There!” I
say. “I think it’s that one.” The villa looks
quiet, so we creep closer, wondering aloud
what it would be like to have cocktails with
the Clooneys.
I’d met up with my mom two days earlier
in Milan. After just an hour’s drive, we
were lakeside, watching the sunset and sipping spritzes—that wonderful Italian drink
Inside the lending library
The Elizabeth Hotel
Fort Collins, Colo.
This modern luxury property
is a musician’s paradise,
said Joshua Berman in The
Denver Post. Besides having
a live-music bar, the 164room Elizabeth Hotel features
a guitar-lending library full
of high-end stringed instruments guests can strum in
the lobby or sign out for a
jam in their rooms. When
my friend and I were in town
to see a bluegrass show,
we pregamed with some
moonshine, a Heartland
top-tension banjo, and a topof-the-line, $5,500 Collings
MF-GT F-style mandolin. “It’s
hard to overstate the kids-ina-candy-store feelings that
were washing over us.”;
doubles from $200
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The author’s mom, on the hunt for Clooney’s villa
made, in this case, with Aperol, Prosecco,
and a splash of soda. The next morning,
we caught a ferry to the Grand Hotel
Tremezzo, a “very Wes Anderson” edifice
created from a former palace that looms
over the lake. We had scheduled massages at the hotel’s spa, and on our walkthrough, we peeked in on opulent lounges
with jewel-colored couches and art nouveau
ceilings “fit for royalty.” Still glistening
That evening we dined at Silvio, a fivegeneration establishment known for its
stunning setting and a famous dish: fresh
lake perch served with a truffle-andParmesan cream sauce. Our last day was
supposed to be our “chill day”—reading
and sipping spritzes beside our hotel’s infinity pool. But I’d got antsy looking at that
stunning Riva motorboat. “Its shiny teak
exterior had been enticing me ever since
I saw it bopping in the water on our first
day.” Soon, we were skipping across the
sparkling lake. “The only thing missing was
that fizzy orange drink.”
At Il Sereno Lago di Como (serenohotels
.com), rates start at $986 a night.
Getting the flavor of...
Five days on Mount Rainier
The real story of Jamestown
I’ve been many places in my career as a travel
writer, but “perhaps my dearest memory” was
made close to home, said Brian Cantwell in The
Seattle Times. In 2013, my daughter and I spent
five days hiking a northern stretch of Mount
Rainier’s famous Wonderland Trail, which makes
a 93-mile loop around the 14,100-foot peak. We
covered just 24 miles, making packs-off detours
to such sites as Spray Falls—“for my money,
one of the more spectacular alpine cataracts
anywhere.” Our route, despite its limited span,
“ranged from deep forest to flowery fairyland
meadows to treeline snowfields that felt like we
were on the way to Valhalla.” During breaks,
we’d paint watercolors or sit by streams and play
pennywhistles, and as we walked, we often burst
into song. “Something about traipsing through
alpine wilderness in the constant company of The
Mountain”—as we locals call it—“made for an
unmatched bonding experience.”
American history runs deep in Jamestown, Va.,
said Laura Johnston in On a brisk
day this spring, I took my kids to the site near
the James River where, 411 years ago, 104 men
and boys established the New World’s first permanent English colony. James Fort has long since
disintegrated, but ongoing archaeological digs—
which visitors to Historic Jamestowne can watch
unfold—are revealing new details about those settlers’ lives. The skull of a 14-year-old girl found in
2012, for example, proved that starving colonists
resorted to eating the dead in the winter famine
of 1609–10. And skeletons unearthed inside the
original church hint at religious turmoil in the
colony. “Those details were over my kids’ heads,”
but my daughter loved hearing about Pocahontas,
even when the real story diverged from Disney’s.
I had no qualms skipping a nearby attraction that
includes a re-creation of the fort. “For me, the
real thing was pretty incredible.”
Last-minute travel deals
Springtime in Rhode Island
Check in at Gurney’s Newport
Resort and Marina in Rhode
Island in May and get a big
spring discount. Rooms start
at $239 a night at the Goat
Island property, compared
with $629 a night during the
high summer season.
Explore the Last Frontier
Save up to $4,000 on an eightday cruise around Alaska’s
Prince William Sound with
Offshore Outpost Expeditions.
A June 3 departure, for
example, starts at $5,900.
Mention The Week when
booking, and call by May 15.
Greetings from Asbury Park
The Asbury Hotel, a boutique,
rock-’n’-roll-themed property
on the New Jersey shore, is
offering free second nights
through May 24. A two-night
midweek stay in mid-May
costs just $136. Book using
promo code 2For1.
Sara Lieberman/The Washington Post, The Elizabeth Hotel/Autograph Collection Hotels
Hotel of the week
with oil after our blissful back rubs, we
hopped another ferry to Bellagio, a town
known as the Pearl of Lake Como for
its cobblestone alleys and leafy pergolas.
Feeling peckish, we stopped for some
prosciutto-wrapped melon at a lakeside
café. “Then, we were off to get purposefully lost among the shops.”
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta: What the critics say
In a world overrun by SUVs, “a well-rounded
compact sedan strangely begins to feel
special.” The seventh-generation Volkswagen
Jetta doesn’t aim to wow anyone, but with its
new platform, sleeker exterior, cushier ride,
and roomier cabin, it gives Americans ample
reason to support its continued run as VW’s
best-selling car. The German automaker is
still master of “budget chic” interiors, and despite the new Jetta’s extra 3 inches in length,
it remains a “snappy” little sedan that feels
“more bolted down” than most rivals.
Consumer Reports
But where the Jettas of old were “taut, agile,
and enjoyable to drive,” this new one is,
to us, “a bit dull.” It delivers solid but lessthan-entertaining handling, and the new
six-speed manual transmission is available
only in the base model. Still, VW has added
value—including alloy rims for all models—
while cutting the entry-level price by $100.
The Jetta now “piles on the comfort, ease
of use, and upscale features.”
New York Daily News
The base engine, a 1.4-liter turbocharged
four-cylinder, hasn’t changed. But torque is
up, and a “slick-shifting” new eight-speed
automatic gearbox provides quicker acceleration, more relaxed cruising, and better fuel
More ‘budget chic,’ from $18,545
economy (34 mpg on average). Though the
“nuanced goodness” of the complete package won’t set many hearts aflutter, “VW has
made a good compact sedan even better.”
The best of...Mother’s Day box sets
Champagne and
Chocolates for Two
Cocoa Butter
Tub Truffles
Clive Christian
Perfume Set
Mamma Mia Italian
Anjou Handmade
Soaps Set
Indulgences are sweeter
when shared, so create
an instant date with a
picnic hamper packed
with two mini bottles of
Chandon Brut sparkling
wine plus Lindt fudge
truffles and Ghirardelli
dark chocolate.
“These truffles aren’t
edible, but they are certainly a treat.” Made of
cocoa butter, clay, and
essential oils, each one
“turns an ordinary bath
into an extraordinary
spa experience.” Scents
include rose, mocha,
lavender, and rosemary.
London perfumer Clive
Christian is “a master
of creating long-lasting,
get-you-noticed scents.”
Each of the handblended perfumes in
this set’s amber bottles
“smells divine,” offering
a range of woody, floral,
and fruity notes.
Mom doesn’t have to be
Italian to appreciate this
collection of imported
specialty items, including a Tuscan olive oil,
white balsamic vinegar,
biscotti, a pistachio
spread, olive oil hand
cream, and a packet of
parsley or basil seeds.
A bargain gift that
doesn’t look the part,
this quartet of elegantly
packaged soaps offers
a bouquet of scents—
lavender, rose, tea
tree, and chamomile.
Walnut particles in each
bar promote gentle
Tip of the week...
Gourmet uses for a microwave
And for those who have
Best apps...
For accessing a computer remotely
QDry herbs. Microwaves can dry hardy fresh
herbs—sage, rosemary, thyme, mint—in
a flash. Place the herbs in a single layer
between paper towels and zap them at full
power for 1 to 3 minutes. They’re done when
the leaves turn brittle.
QDehydrate citrus peel. Strips of citrus peel
will dry in 2 to 3 minutes. Store them in an
airtight container to have zest on demand.
QMellow garlic. Microwaving garlic for 15
seconds reduces its bite by preventing the
formation of allicin, a sulfur compound
produced when garlic is cut. A bonus: Microwaved cloves are “a cinch to peel.”
QDehydrate eggplant. To prep eggplant for
sautéing or frying, toss cubed chunks with
salt, then cover a plate with a double layer of
paper towels sprayed lightly with vegetable
oil. Spread eggplant out evenly and microwave 8 to 15 minutes, until shriveled. Transfer
immediately to another towel-lined plate.
Pure maple syrup is kid’s
stuff. The new nectar of the
woods is derived from the
sap of a more parsimonious
tree, and only 40 producers in the world have
the patience to make it.
Botanical Springs Birch
Syrup is a ine example.
“More savory than sweet,”
it combines alluring flavors
of molasses and citrus
but tastes less suited for
a pancake breakfast than
for cocktails, a steak sauce,
and dressings. The Massachusetts honey
and syrup purveyor that makes it reports
that birch syrup requires “quite a bit more
sap” than its maple products. It also sells for
about three times maple’s price.
$25 for 3.45 oz,
QChrome Remote Desktop is the most
straightforward of the free programs that let
you access a home computer from anywhere. As with the other apps here, it must
be installed on each connected computer.
It uses a Google account as a login, and
it works with devices running Windows,
macOS, Chrome OS, or Linux.
QTeamViewer requires that users register
an account, and it isn’t quite as user-friendly.
But it does offer some more-advanced
features. You can transfer iles, record screen
activity, or reboot a machine remotely.
QAnyDesk isn’t as visually polished as the
others, but it’s fast, simple, and “deinitely
worth a look.” It works on Windows, macOS,
and Linux, and it allows ile transfers. You
don’t need to establish an account, and the
program is portable, so once you’ve downloaded the client application, no additional
installation is required.
Source: Cook’s Illustrated
Source: The Boston Globe
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Best properties on the market
This week: Homes with Italian influences
1 X San Antonio Everett Love commissioned
renowned architects Adams and Adams to build
Villa Amore for his Italian wife in 1922. The
four-bedroom estate features arched doorways,
Italian stenciled beams, Palladian windows
opening to a balcony, and a 1000-bottle
wine room. Outside are an imported marble
fountain, a pool, an alfresco fireplace, and a
carriage house with a one-bedroom apartment.
$1,999,000. Jason Glast, San Antonio Portfolio
Real Estate, (210) 386-1833
2 W Hilton Head Island, S.C.
This Tuscan-style four-bedroom
home on Calibogue Sound
was built in 2004. Details
include reclaimed beams, Italian
stone, heart-of-pine floors, a
1,000-bottle wine room, and
an Italian farm-style kitchen.
The waterfront property offers
180-degree views, a pool, a
private beach, a pavilion, and
several docks giving quick access to the Intercoastal Waterway. $4,295,000. Terri and
Bill Rupp, Engel & Völkers/
Hilton Head Island Bluffton,
(843) 715-4422
3 X Nyack, N.Y. Palazzo Mare, built in 2001,
is a five-bedroom, 15th century–style Venetian villa on the bank of the Hudson River.
The ornate front door leads to an open first
floor with a grand staircase, a 27-foot ceiling,
and Corinthian columns. The master suite has
a green marble bathroom with a spa tub. The
0.62-acre property includes a sandy beach,
a pier, and a pool with a spa. $3,500,000.
Richard Ellis, Ellis Sotheby’s, (914) 393-0438
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Best properties on the market
4 W Venice, Calif. The four-bedroom Rialto House
was built in 1905 by one of Abbot Kinney’s
senior craftsmen, who was enlisted to help create
Kinney’s “Venice of America.” Features include
hardwood floors, Islamo-Byzantine stained-glass
windows, a marble-floored sunroom, an Italiantile bathroom, and a third-floor studio bedroom
with roof deck access. The corner property
has a garage topped with an 840-square-foot
guesthouse. $3,985,000. Penny Muck, Halton
Pardee + Partners, (310) 907-6517
Steal of the week
5 S Newport, R.I. The extensive
renovation of Casa del Sole, built in
the early 20th century, was completed in 2017. The four-bedroom,
marble-floored Palladian mansion,
currently owned by former Olympic
figure skater Michelle Kwan, features a chef’s kitchen, two fireplaces, and
formal living and dining rooms, each opening to a loggia. The 2-acre landscaped property, just off Ocean Drive, includes a fire pit and multiple seating
areas. $4,395,000. Kimberly Fleming and Michelle Drum, Gustave White/
Sotheby’s International Realty, (401) 849-3000
6 W Attica, Ind. The Rohlfing House, built in 1887,
is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Italianate brick home’s three-year renovation,
completed in 2010, preserved period fixtures,
original woodwork, oil-on-canvas wall coverings,
a stained-glass window, and the kitchen’s period
sink and prep room. The double lot is close to
downtown and area parks. $265,000. Tommy
Kleckner, Indiana Landmarks, (812) 232-4534
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The news at a glance
The bottom line
QNearly a decade after
the recession put millions
of Americans out of work,
14 states have set new records for low unemployment
rates in the past year. Those
states run the ideological
gamut, from conservative
Texas to liberal California,
suggesting a broad-based recovery. In March, eight states
marked record unemployment lows, including Hawaii
(2.1 percent), Maine (2.7 percent), and Idaho (2.9 percent).
QIn 1983, 20 percent of all
American wage and salary
workers—some 17.7 million
people—were union members. In 2017, 10.7 percent
of workers, or 14.8 million
people, were in unions.
The New York Times
QCompetitive video
gaming is now a
$1.5 billion–
a-year industry and
the world’s
spectator sport.
tournaments and live streams
drew 258 million unique
viewers in 2017—more than
watched all NFL regularseason games combined.
The Wall Street Journal
QThanks to tax cuts and
federal spending increases,
the U.S. is the only advanced
economy in the world
expected to increase its debt
burden over the next five
years. Every other developed
country—including fiscal
basket cases such as Greece
and Italy—is projected to
lower debt as a share of its
The Washington Post
QDespite the fact that men
named John represent
only 3.3 percent of the U.S.
population while women
represent 50.8 percent, there
are almost as many Johns
(21) currently serving as
CEOs of Fortune 500 firms as
there are women (23).
The New York Times
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Tech: Alphabet reports surging profit
“The good news is that
Google’s parent company,
Google still makes insane
Alphabet, unveiled blockbuster
amounts of money,” said
earnings this week, said Nick
Dan Gallagher in The
Statt in The
Wall Street Journal. “That
internet giant reported a 73 peris also the bad news.”
cent jump in profits in the first
The business recorded
quarter, zooming past Wall
its fastest rate of growth
Street estimates “thanks in large
since 2011, and it roughly
part to its mammoth search
doubled the ad revenue
advertising machine.” Alphabet
that Facebook generated
generated roughly $31.2 billion
Search is a money spinner.
in the same period. But
in sales, with its core advertising
having “largely escaped the withering public
business, which is responsible for 86 percent of
scrutiny that has fallen upon Silicon Valley” of
revenue, performing “astonishingly well.” The
figure was up significantly from the $24.8 billion late, Google won’t be trumpeting its numbers too
loudly. “Some of Facebook’s problems may be
it recorded a year ago. Alphabet’s profits soared
unique, but new regulations are unlikely to spare
for the quarter, to $9.4 billion, compared with
the biggest player in this business.”
last year’s $5.4 billion.
Markets: 10-year Treasury yields hit 3 percent
“The most widely watched bond rate in the world just hit a milestone,” said Paul La Monica in The yield on the 10-year
Treasury note, which influences rates for auto loans and mortgages,
topped 3 percent this week for the first time since 2014. “For
Americans, that means borrowing costs are on the way up.” The climb
triggered a stock market sell-off early in the week, as investors worried that “higher interest rates may eat into corporate profits and that
faster inflation is coming.”
Toys: Mattel loses another CEO
Mattel has appointed its fourth CEO in four years as it continues to
search for answers to a prolonged sales slump, said Dana Cimilluca and
Paul Ziobro in The Wall Street Journal. Margo Georgiadis, the toy company’s current CEO, exited the firm this week, after serving for only one
year. Ynon Kreiz, a former studio executive, has taken over leadership
of the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars. Mattel has struggled
to adapt “to a fast-changing industry where online content and movies
are increasingly critical in capturing children’s attention.”
Retail: Sears CEO proposes buying retailer’s assets
Sears Holdings CEO and hedge fund investor Eddie Lampert is proposing to purchase the troubled retailer’s assets, said Nathan Bomey
in USA Today. Lampert’s own hedge fund revealed this week it had
written to Sears “offering to work out a deal to help the distressed
company raise cash.” The offer includes buying Sears’ real estate, the
Kenmore brand, and other assets. If the deal were to be completed,
it would compound “the reclusive executive’s financial entanglement
with the retailer amid its decline.” So far, Lampert has orchestrated
deals handing himself control of Sears’ “most valuable real estate.”
Property: Home prices rise for 70th month in a row
“Home sellers are partying like it’s 2006,” said Kathryn Vasel in The value of homes in the U.S. soared another 6.3 percent over the 12-month period up to February, according to the latest
S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. The increase occurred despite
mortgage rates climbing to their highest level in four years. Home
prices have now risen 6.7 percent nationally from their peak in July
2006, and homeowners have enjoyed a continuous rise for the past
70 months. Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Francisco led the gains, all
recording increases above 10 percent.
The rocker who
will hawk anything
“Gene Simmons has
rarely met a brand he
won’t endorse,” said
Jacquie McNish and
Vipal Monga in The
Wall Street Journal. The
68-year-old bass player
for the ’70s rock band
KISS, known for “blackand-white face paint
and smoke-belching
guitars,” Simmons has
parlayed his flair for
spectacle into a career
as a pitchman for a vast
array of products—from
life insurance to legal
marijuana to a financial advice magazine
for “mom-and-pop
investors.” Celebrities
have always hawked
products, but experts
say Simmons’ pitching is “unrivaled.”
Never mind that he
occasionally “has
little knowledge about
brands he promotes
or, as is the case with
marijuana, has openly
disdained” the product.
Companies are happy
to hire him anyway.
“For not being an A-list
celebrity, his name recognition is good,” said
Bob Williams, CEO of
Burns Entertainment,
which helps brands find
Newscom, AP
Making money
Pet care: Budgeting for a four-legged friend
have.” Travel is also a big issue for a pet
“Your furry friends can run up a big tab
owner, said Kelli Blender in
over their lifetime,” said Pat Mertz Essen
Depending on the airline, small dogs and
and Kaitlin Pitsker in Americats usually can travel with you for a
can pet owners devoted $66.8 billion to their
fee. If that’s not possible, you’ll need to
pets in 2016, almost double the $38.5 billion
budget for either a dog walker or sitting
forked out in 2006. The first cost factor—
and one of the biggest—is how you acquire
your pet. “Buying from a pet store is rarely
The largest chunk of what you can exa good idea.” The animals often come from
pect to spend will go to vet bills, said
“puppy mills or kitten factories.” Adopting
Michael Estrin in The San Diego Unionfrom an animal shelter usually costs from
Tribune. With pet-related health-care costs
$20 to $350, while rescue organizations
soaring—not unlike that of humans—pet
charge from $150 to $400. Both are typically
An adorable, if occasionally costly, buddy
insurance has become a “big business,”
more humane and economical than stores.
with 1.6 million pets now covered in the U.S. Typical policies run
Make sure the shelter or rescue group is well established and
about $50 per month. Helpfully, you don’t have to worry about
“documents the completion of vaccinations and neutering.”
out-of-network care. “Unlike health insurance for humans, most
pet insurance policies do not limit pet owners to a network of
Nobody wants to put a price tag on “the companionship of
approved veterinarians.” You also shouldn’t assume your pet is
a four-legged friend,” said Elizabeth O’Brien in
too old to qualify. Age limits vary by insurance company, but a
But it’s not unreasonable to map out your animal’s costs and
number of firms insure dogs and cats up to age 14, while others
incorporate them into your budget. “You don’t want to reach
have no age restrictions. You might also consider insurance “for
a point where unexpected expenses force you to give up your
beloved pup, or where they crowd out all other financial priori- your dog’s bite, as well as its bark,” said Beth Pinsker in Reuters
.com. There were 18,522 liability claims for dog-related confronties.” Unforeseen costs abound. If you’re a renter, for instance,
most landlords demand a deposit or nonrefundable fee when an tations last year in the U.S., with insurance payouts averaging
$37,051 per incident. “Dogs of any size or breed can inflict serianimal joins the family. Experts suggest immediately opening
ous damage.” Dog bites are often included in the liability portion
a rainy-day pet fund as soon as you pick up your new friend.
of renters or homeowners insurance policies, so check yours, as
“That way, you won’t get blindsided by any pet-related rental
“inadequate coverage can invite lawsuits.”
fees, or the bill when Fluffy swallows something she shouldn’t
What the experts say
A break for savers?
Interest rates are on the rise, said Matt Phillips in The New York Times, but chances are
“you’re still not making much on your bank
account.” Major banks “are almost always
slow to lift deposit rates” on CDs and savings
accounts, but they “are being even slower than
usual” in the current environment. “One reason is that banks don’t really need the money,”
since loan growth has been sluggish and they
have ample deposits on hand. Another reason: After a decade of near-zero rates, many
depositors “seem almost to have forgotten
that they’re supposed to get something in exchange for their money.” Internet-only banks
are an attractive alternative. Deposit rates for
online-only accounts now average more than
1.4 percent; by comparison, savings accounts
at major banks average 0.06 percent.
Valerie Reiss
Student loans and your retirement
“No parent wants to be the spoiler of big college dreams,” said Gail MarksJarvis in Reuters
.com. But helping your college-bound child
at any cost can have a lasting impact on your
own financial future—and significantly push
back your retirement date. A record number
of parents now enter their 60s holding “crippling debt left over from their children’s college
Charity of the week
years.” Americans over age 60 have more than
$66 billion in student loan debt, at an average
$23,500 per person. If you have children close
to college age, be honest and realistic with
your kids about what schools you can afford.
Federal PLUS loans have no limits on borrowing, so they can be a tempting source of money
for parents, but beware: They currently charge
a hefty 7 percent interest. “The best bet is to
avoid the debt in the first place.”
Gifting your grandchild an education
If your grandchild lives in a different state and
you want to set up a 529 savings plan for her,
“first check whether your state offers a tax
break for your contributions,” said Kimberly
Lankford in Putting money in a
529 plan allows a beneficiary to use the funds
tax free to cover tuition and any other fees at
all public and private colleges; thanks to the
new tax law, up to $10,000 of 529 money
each year can also be used tax free to pay tuition for kindergarten through 12th grade too.
Thirty states offer tax breaks for 529 contributions. Each state’s rules differ in terms of the
amount you can contribute annually before
taxes kick in. “If your state doesn’t offer a tax
break, shop for a plan based on its investment
choices, fees, and other details.”
Children in
who aren’t
literate by
third grade are
13 times less
likely to graduate high school than their
more well-off peers. Understanding that
early literacy is a key to success, Literacy
Inc. ( works with elementary schools and community centers to
develop a love for reading in high-need
neighborhoods around New York City.
In partnership with schools, the charity
pairs older students with kindergartners
through second-graders to have weekly
read-aloud sessions. It also trains parents
to implement LINC reading activities in
their community and to support reading
at home. Finally, LINC holds community
reading events at local libraries and
parks. LINC serves more than 8,000 children each year, and its programs have
helped to increase reading rates in participants’ homes by 20 percent.
Each charity we feature has earned a
four-star overall rating from Charity
Navigator, which rates not-for-profit
organizations on the strength of their
finances, their governance practices,
and the transparency of their operations.
Four stars is the group’s highest rating.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Best columns: Business
Energy: Why oil is getting more expensive
A limit to
Wells Fargo’s
James Stewart
The New York Times
Let’s hear
it for
Andy Kessler
The Wall Street Journal
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
Is the government’s decision to slap a $1 billion fine
on beleaguered Wells Fargo just “beating a dead
horse?” asked James Stewart. Last week’s record penalty, for selling unnecessary products to customers,
comes on top of the $185 million fine the bank paid
in 2016 for its fake-accounts scandal, as well as the
$4.25 billion it set aside for liabilities related to that
scandal and to precrisis mortgage-backed securities.
There was also the unprecedented punishment meted
out in February by the Federal Reserve, which barred
the bank from growing until it fixed its many problems. Now, “I’ve been a harsh critic” of Wells Fargo’s
“culture of rule breaking and customer abuse,” and
of the previous management’s pattern of marginalizing and even firing “anyone at the bank with
the courage and integrity to try to stop the illegal
practices.” But I wonder if it’s time to turn the page.
The executives responsible for the bank’s abhorrent
practices are gone, and the board “has been purged.”
Thousands of employees and middle managers have
been fired, and shareholders “have been battered” by
a 16 percent drop in the stock. Wells will continue to
pay a financial price for its misdeeds for years; a slew
of civil lawsuits ensures that. “At this point it’s hard
to imagine what more Wells Fargo can do (or how
much more it can spend) to make amends.”
“It’s that time of year,” said Andy Kessler. Students
hoping to land summer internships are inundating the inboxes of potential employers with their
résumés, and I’m hoping managers hire as many
as possible. “Pay them? Don’t pay them? It doesn’t
matter. Just let them in the door.” In the early
1980s, I landed an internship at Hewlett-Packard in
Silicon Valley. I coded math functions for a future
minicomputer, sleeping on the floor of a furnitureless apartment and borrowing a friend’s bike to
save what little money I had. It was very much
worth my while. There’s nothing better for college
students than plopping them in the middle of some
exciting enterprise. “It almost doesn’t matter what
the company does; good interns absorb it all.” And
managers would be wise to inject these young people
into the center of whatever their business does. “The
payback usually comes in the form of a single good
idea, one productive change that fresh eyes will see.”
Of course, “many poor or disadvantaged students
can’t afford to work for nothing.” That’s why it’s
time for universities to do a better job helping to
fund internships. Sure, it may just be “a tuition rebate,” but the best interns often get hired back after
graduation. “The more students who find productive
jobs, the better off we’ll all be.”
decade ago. That has helped stabilize
“Donald Trump is not happy about the
the global oil market and “kept big
price of oil,” said Jordan Weissman in
price rises in check.” But it’s also The president recently chided
coming clear that “there are limits” to
the Organization of the Petroleum Exshale’s growth. A shortage of pipelines
porting Countries, suggesting the cartel
and workers could slow output over
was manipulating global oil supplies in
the next two years, and U.S. refineries,
order to drive up prices, which this week
“generally designed for heavier crudes,
briefly topped $75 a barrel, the highest
are reaching a saturation point for
in more than three years. “Looks like
the lighter shale oil produced around
OPEC is at it again,” Trump tweeted.
Texas and North Dakota.” That’s given
“Oil prices are artificially Very High!
OPEC a window of opportunity to inNo good and will not be accepted!”
The price of a barrel of oil is at a three-year high.
fluence prices—which it’s done. Trump’s
The cost of oil is up roughly 46 percent
over last year, and with demand climbing, drivers have seen prices rant about more expensive oil “misses a new reality,” anyway,
said Sho Chandra in The idea of cheap oil being
at the pump also soar to three-year highs. The last time oil was
an unalloyed good for Americans “harks back to an earlier era,”
north of $70 a barrel, prices “were in the middle of a steep colwhen lower prices would boost consumption and keep business
lapse,” said Stephanie Yang and Alison Sider in The Wall Street
costs down. But with the U.S. on track to overtake Russia as the
Journal. It was 2014, and the U.S. shale boom and the resumpworld’s largest oil producer by next year, a large chunk of the
tion of drilling in Libya had resulted in a global glut of crude,
American economy now stands to benefit from higher prices.
causing oil prices to crater, eventually to just $26 a barrel. For
two years, OPEC countries responded by pumping frantically,
hoping to drive U.S. shale operators out of business. But in 2016, The Iranian nuclear deal is the next wild card for the oil market,
said Charles Riley in Iran has “ramped up prothey “reversed course” and enlisted other petrostates, such as
duction since sanctions were eased” in 2015 to 3.8 million barrels
Russia, to agree to major production cuts. Over time, the cartel
successfully rolled back production by more than 1.5 million bar- a day—an increase of about 1 million daily barrels. If Trump
tears up the accord and imposes new sanctions on Iranian energy
rels a day, eliminating the global glut that had kept prices low.
exports, it “would put a dent in global supply and cause prices to
spike higher.” If that happens, the president could try to pressure
OPEC has long been a scapegoat for American presidents, said
Saudi Arabia to abandon its stated goal of pushing oil into the
Clifford Krauss in The New York Times, but in truth it “doesn’t
$100-a-barrel range, said David Blackmon in One
have the same influence it once did.” Thanks to shale drilling,
the U.S. now accounts for more than 10 million of the 98 million thing is certain: If Trump is really interested in lowering oil prices,
“he’s going to have to do more than tweet about it.”
barrels of oil a day produced worldwide—a level unthinkable a
The formidable first lady who raised a president
With her brilliant white hair and
trademark fake pearls, Barbara Bush
was viewed by many Americans as
the nation’s kindly grandmother.
But within the Bush family, she was known as The
Enforcer. As the matriarch of one of the nation’s
most powerful families, Bush employed her own
considerable political skills to help her husband,
George H.W. Bush, and her eldest son, George
W. Bush, rise to the presidency. Throughout her
husband’s career, Bush meticulously maintained an
index-card library detailing the family’s social and
fundraising contacts. When George H.W. finally
reached the White House in 1989, their Christmas
card list had grown to more than 10,000 names.
She was an equally adept campaigner, winning over crowds with
her down-to-earth manner and self-deprecating humor. After
becoming first lady at age 63, she noted that she had become
a role model for a particular cohort of American women. “My
mail,” she said, “tells me a lot of fat, white-haired, wrinkled ladies
are tickled pink.”
The daughter of a publishing executive father, Barbara Pierce “grew
up in the tony New York City bedroom community of Rye,” said
USA Today. She had a difficult relationship with her domineering
mother, whose barbed comments about her youthful chubbiness
left the future first lady with a lasting sensitivity about her weight.
At 16, she caught sight of George H.W. during a Christmas dance
at a Connecticut country club, said The Washington Post. “She
later called him her first love and said he was the only boy she ever
kissed.” The following year, George enlisted in the Navy and trained
as a pilot; he named the torpedo bomber that he flew in the South
Pacific “Barbara.” The couple married in 1945, and the bride, not
yet 20, dropped out of Smith College. “The truth is, I just wasn’t
interested,” she said in interviews. “I was just interested in George.”
“After World War II, the Bushes moved to the
Texas oil patch to seek their fortune,” said the
Associated Press. Barbara was often left to manage their five children on her own—a sixth child,
Robin, died in 1953 of leukemia at age 3—as
George’s ambitions carried him from business to
the highest levels of politics, including appointments as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations,
CIA director, and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.
“This was a period, for me, of long days and short
years,” she said, “of diapers, runny noses, earaches,
more Little League games than you could believe
possible.” Bush made more sacrifices as first lady,
staying quiet about contentious issues—including
her rumored support for abortion rights—“when
her opinion was said to differ from her husband’s,” said The New
York Times. “She was vocal, however, in championing causes of her
choosing.” She was a passionate supporter of literacy campaigns,
having seen her son, Neil, struggle with dyslexia, and promoted
AIDS awareness when the disease was still highly stigmatized.
“After her husband lost his bid for re-election to Bill Clinton in
1992, the Bushes built a home in Houston, and she delighted in
being away from politics,” said Los Angeles Times. Still, George W.
“repeatedly called on his mother” for advice while campaigning for
and serving in the White House. When another son, former Florida
Gov. Jeb Bush, prepared to run in 2016, she appeared more reluctant, telling an interviewer with characteristic bluntness: “We’ve
had enough Bushes.” Nevertheless, she supported his decision
once it was made and attacked rival Republican candidate Donald
Trump as a hate-monger, demonstrating an aggressiveness that
many wished to see from Jeb. She stayed smitten with George H.W.
until the end, and their 73-year marriage is the longest in presidential history. Sixty years after their wedding, she described her husband as “that 80-year-old whirlwind who makes my life sing.”
The champion pro wrestler who fought for authenticity
In May 1963, Bruno Sammartino
stepped into the ring in Madison
Square Garden for his first World
Wide Wrestling Federation championship fight. His opponent, “Nature Boy” Buddy
Rogers, was supposed to win—pro wrestling was,
and remains, choreographed entertainment. But
Sammartino wasn’t having any of it. He locked
Rogers in a bear hug, hoisted him over his shoulder
in a signature move called the pendulum backbreaker,
and warned his opponent that he’d really break his
back if he didn’t give up. The fight ended after just 48
seconds, marking the start of Sammartino’s record-breaking 11
years as heavyweight champion. While acknowledging that wrestling was staged, the 275-pound Italian immigrant insisted that his
body proved the action was real. “I have broken [my] neck, my
collarbone, both arms, wrists, knuckles, all of my ribs, my back,”
Sammartino said. “It’s incredible to think people would fake that.”
Melissa Golden/Redux, Newscom
Sammartino was born in the central Italian town of Pizzoferrato,
said The Washington Post. When the Nazis invaded during
World War II, his family sought shelter in the mountains, hiding for about a year in horrendous conditions. “In the winter,”
Sammartino said, “we actually survived by eating snow.” At age
14, he moved with his mother and siblings to Pittsburgh, where
his father had moved for work before the war.
Weighing only 80 pounds, “he began to lift weights
as a way to build up his body and overcome bullying.” Sammartino narrowly missed out on a spot
on the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team in 1956
and in 1959 “set a world record by bench-pressing
565 pounds.” That same year, “Sammartino signed
a $250-a-week” pro-wrestling contract, said The
New York Times. Over the next two decades, the
5-foot-10 wrestler became “one of the most popular
performers in the business.” He fought more than
200 bouts at Madison Square Garden and “wrestled
in Australia, Spain, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.” He often “made
$150,000 a year.”
After retiring from the ring in 1981, Sammartino “became an outspoken critic of the company that helped make him a star,” said An “old-school wrestler,” he hated the modern
sport’s ubiquitous gimmicks and costumes, and “held huge disdain for a culture of steroid and illicit drug use.” He agreed to be
inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013—by longtime friend
Arnold Schwarzenegger—only after receiving assurances that the
organization was clamping down on steroids. “If the general public knew how much of this was going on,” Sammartino said in
1990, “they would be shocked and devastated.”
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The last word
Saving Hawking’s voice
In 2014, a Silicon Valley engineer got an unexpected call, said journalist Jason Fagone.
Could he help rescue physicist Stephen Hawking’s distinctive voice before aging technology lost it forever?
Dorsey and Hawking had
first met 30 years earlier,
nearly to the day. In March
1988, Hawking was visiting
the University of California,
Berkeley, during a three-week
lecture tour.
Hawking liked the voice just
the way it was, and had stubbornly refused other options.
But now the hardware was
showing wear and tear. If it
failed, his distinctive voice
would be lost to the ages.
The solution, Wood believed,
was to replicate the decaying
hardware in new software,
to somehow transplant a
30-year-old voice synthesizer
into a modern laptop—
without changing the sound
of the voice. What did Dorsey think?
Hawking liked his robotic tone and rejected opportunities to upgrade.
At 46, Hawking was already famous for
his discoveries about quantum physics and
black holes, but not as famous as he was
about to be. His best-seller, A Brief History
of Time, was a week away from release,
and Californians were curious about this
British professor from the University of
Cambridge, packing the seats of his public
talks, approaching him at meals.
When Hawking spoke, it was in the voice
of a robot, a voice that emerged from a
gray box fixed to the back of his motorized wheelchair. The voice synthesizer, a
commercial product known as the CallText
5010, was a novelty then, not yet a part of
his identity; he’d begun using it just three
years before, after the motor-neuron disease
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis stole his ability
to speak. Hawking selected bits of text on a
video screen by moving his cheek, and the
CallText turned the text into speech. At the
start of one lecture, Hawking joked about it:
“The only problem,” he said, to big laughs,
“is that it gives me an American accent.”
Dorsey was with Hawking for part of that
trip, tagging along as a sort of authority on
the voice, explaining its workings to journalists. He worked at the Mountain View,
Calif., company that manufactured the
CallText 5010, a hardware board with two
computer chips running custom software.
An upbeat 32-year-old, Dorsey was quiet
by nature, but driven. He had joined Speech
Plus as an intern, attracted by its mission to
help the voiceless and the disabled; now he
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
led a team of engineers, and at least 20,000
lines of his own code were in the CallText.
At the end of his California tour, the
physicist gave Dorsey a signed copy of his
new book, his thumbprint pressed onto
the inside cover. Hawking returned to
Cambridge, Dorsey to his life in California.
Twenty-six years went by before they would
cross paths again.
In tech years, that is a millennium. The
internet happened. Silicon Valley boomed,
busted, boomed again. Apple, Amazon,
Facebook, Google, Uber.
Dorsey, meanwhile, left Speech Plus, which
went bankrupt and was sold to a series
of other companies. He got married and
had kids. He joined a Buddhist temple. He
eventually left the field of speech technology
altogether, becoming an engineering leader
at DVR maker TiVo.
Tech, he’d learned, moves so fast. “There’s
a new iPhone every year,” Dorsey says.
“Everything just kind of gets buried in the
dustbin of history very, very quickly.”
That’s why, when an email from Cambridge
University arrived out of the blue in 2014,
Dorsey was surprised. It came from Hawking’s technical assistant, Jonathan Wood,
who was responsible for Hawking’s communications systems.
Wood explained something so improbable
that Dorsey had trouble understanding at
first: Hawking was still using the CallText
5010 speech synthesizer, a version last
upgraded in 1986. In nearly 30 years, he
had never switched to newer technology.
Thirty years old? he thought.
Oh, my God.
It wouldn’t be easy. They
might have to locate the old source code.
They might have to find the original chips
and the manuals for those chips. They
couldn’t buy them anymore, the companies
don’t exist. Solving the problem might
mean mounting an archaeological dig
through an antiquated era of technology.
But it was for Stephen Hawking. “Let’s get
it done,” Dorsey said.
Apple’s Siri, rely on prerecorded
libraries of natural sound. Voice
actors record huge libraries of words and
syllables, and software chops them up and
reassembles them into sentences on the fly.
But 30 years ago, computers could produce
only a “stick-figure version” of a human
voice, says Patti Price, a speech recognition
specialist in Palo Alto.
Back then, she worked as a postdoc in the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology lab
of Dennis Klatt, a tall, thin, opera-loving
scientist originally from Wisconsin. Klatt
is the godfather of Hawking’s voice. He
blasted his own throat with X-rays to measure the shape of his voice box as he articulated certain sounds and then developed a
software model of speech, the Klatt Model,
based on his own voice.
Speech Plus took Klatt’s model, improved
on it, and commercialized it, including the
CallText 5010. One of Dorsey’s contributions was to write an algorithm that controlled the intonation of the voice, the rise
and fall of words and sentences. Speech
Plus would sell thousands of CallText sys-
62-yearold engineer in Palo
Alto, Calif., was watching TV in mid-March when
he started getting texts that
Stephen Hawking had died. He
turned on the news and saw
clips of the famed physicist
speaking in his iconic android
voice—the voice that Dorsey
had spent so much time as a
young man helping to create,
and then, much later, to save
from destruction.
The last word
tems, though many customers complained
that the voice sounded too robotic.
But Hawking liked it. True, it was robotic,
but he appreciated that it was easy to understand: “noise-robust,” as Price explains. The
shape of its waveform was more like a series
of plateaus than the steep mountain cliffs of
human voices, which fall off more sharply.
The flattish slope of Hawking’s voice made
it cut through noise in amphitheaters and
lecture halls. “It’s very intelligible,” Dorsey
says. “You can listen to it for a long time,
and it’s not irritating.”
Over the years, Hawking had chances to
upgrade. In 1996, a Massachusetts speech
technology company called Nuance, which
had acquired the remains of Speech Plus,
upgraded the CallText with evolved software code that made the voice sound fuller
and faster, less robotic, with shorter pauses
between sentences.
It had the feel of a mad scramble through
an earlier era of technology. But people
everywhere leaped at the chance to help.
“The goal is to save his voice,” Dorsey said.
“Once you go to somebody—‘I need you to
help save Stephen Hawking’s voice’ — they
immediately wake up.”
The breakthrough came just before Christmas 2017, when the emulator finally started
producing sounds that resembled the familiar voice they had been chasing. It had some
minor glitches, but the voice was an acoustical match to Hawking’s, the waveforms
virtually identical.
Dorsey’s archaeological quest for old code
turned out to be a frustrating one. No
one at Nuance was able to find the source
code from the 1986 version of CallText.
They did, however, find the code for the
upgraded 1996 version of the voice, on a
backup tape in an office in Belgium. After a
few months of work, Nuance engineers got
the code up and running and sent a series of
On Jan. 17, the team felt ready to demonstrate the new voice for Hawking. Wood,
Wozniak, and Benie went to Hawking’s
home in Cambridge and played him samples on a Linux laptop. To the team’s relief
and happiness, Hawking gave his blessing.
Starting around 2009, Wood and several others at Cambridge began trying to
separate Hawking’s voice from the failing CallText hardware. The group would
include Peter Benie, a computer guru at the
university; Pawel Wozniak, a local engineering student; and Mark Green, an experienced electrical engineer with Intel.
By the time Cambridge reached out to
Dorsey in 2014, they were investigating a
third avenue: track down the old CallText
source code, now owned by Nuance, and
port it to Hawking’s laptop, transplanting
the old voice into a fresh new body.
Was it possible? Dorsey had no idea. It
depended on whether he could find the
source code, or, failing that, information
that would let him reverse-engineer the
source code.
He started emailing colleagues he hadn’t
seen in 30 years, asking if they had any
CallText bric-a-brac still lying around:
boards, chips, manuals. One guy found an
actual CallText board in his garage. Others
located dusty schematics.
They still needed to port the voice to the
PC, so temporarily, Wood loaded a version
onto a miniature hardware board known as
a Raspberry Pi. He thought Hawking might
want to evaluate the voice in everyday life,
and the Pi was the quickest way to get him
up and running.
On Jan. 26, Wood took the Pi along to
Hawking’s house and asked if he’d like to
try it out. Hawking raised his eyebrows,
which meant “yes.” The team put the Pi in
a tiny black box, attached it to Hawking’s
chair with Velcro, and plugged it into the
voice box. Then they disconnected the
CallText. For the first time in 33 years,
Hawking was able to speak without it.
They sent Hawking a sample of the new
voice, thinking he’d be pleased. He was not.
He said the intonation wasn’t right. He preferred the 1986 voice.
One option they considered was tweaking
a modern synthetic voice like Siri to sound
more like Hawking. But Siri-type systems
rely on the vast computer power of internet
clouds, and Hawking couldn’t be constantly
tethered to the internet. Benie also tried a
completely different approach. He wrote
a software emulator for the CallText—
essentially a program that would fool a modern PC into thinking it was actually the old
CallText. But the samples it produced didn’t
sound faithful enough for Hawking’s taste.
Wood watched eagerly for Hawking’s reaction. “I love it,” Hawking said.
Hawking’s speech synthesizer
audio samples to Hawking’s team, adjusting
the program to try to match the 1986 voice.
It didn’t quite work. The match was close
but not perfect. Hawking flagged subtle differences others had trouble discerning. “It’s
like recognizing your mother’s voice,” Price
said. “When you hear them over the phone,
you know if that’s right or not.”
they switched tacks
and returned to one of their original
ideas: to emulate the CallText in software, similar to how PCs can emulate old
Nintendo games that aren’t sold anymore.
The CallText, of course, was a more intricate beast than a Nintendo, driven by two
obsolete and complexly interacting chips,
one made by Intel and the other by NEC.
Building the emulator demanded heroic
feats of programming, intuition, and hightech surgery. The chips had to be removed
from a spare CallText board with tweezers
and a screwdriver. An emulator for the
Intel chip had to be written from scratch,
by Benie. A separate emulator, for the
NEC, was borrowed from an open-source
Nintendo emulator. Then all these disparate
pieces had to be glued together.
For the next few weeks in private conversations, Hawking continued to speak through
the emulator and the Raspberry Pi, chatting
happily with friends and colleagues. All
that remained, the final step in the project,
was to get the PC version, still a bit buggy,
working smoothly. But after a few more
code revisions, it was finally bug-free.
And that is when Hawking got sick, in
According to Wood, Hawking continued
using the emulator until his final days. He
was able to talk with his loved ones and
caregivers with the new software.
The original CallText boards have passed
to Hawking’s estate, to use as his family wishes. So has the new software, the
CallText emulator, which can be ported to
future platforms as they are invented.
Hawking was, famously, an atheist, skeptical of the afterlife; “We have this one
life to appreciate the grand design of this
universe,” he once said, “and for that, I
am extremely grateful.” But there is no
longer any physical reason his voice can’t
live forever.
Excerpted from an article that originally
appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Reprinted with permission.
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
The Puzzle Page
Crossword No. 454: Pulitzer Wurlitzer by Matt Gaffney
The Week Contest
This week’s question: A Colorado man who previously
had been mauled by a bear and bitten by a rattlesnake
has survived his third wildlife encounter—a shark attack
in Hawaii. If Dylan McWilliams were to write a memoir
about his wildlife experiences, what title could he give
the book?
Last week’s contest: A New York man rushed to the hospital with agonizing headaches after he scarfed a superspicy Carolina Reaper chile pepper during a peppereating contest. Please come up with a medical term for
the misery caused by eating overly incendiary food.
THE WINNER: Jalapaiño
Drew Fagan, Gualala, Calif.
SECOND PLACE: Fire-arrhea
Stuart Antrim, Cleveland, Ga.
THIRD PLACE: Hellitosis
THE WEEK May 4, 2018
For runners-up and complete contest rules, please go to
1 Lovers’ quarrel
5 Cartoon explorer
9 Fantastic Mr. Fox
13 Ambassador and
Rambler automaker
14 “I’ve got this”
15 Cookie with a “mystery
flavor” last fall
16 Free-jazz pioneer who
won the Pulitzer Prize
for Music in 2007
for his album Sound
19 Inflatable mattress
20 “___ Don’t Preach”
(Madonna hit)
21 Neighbor of Brazil
22 94-year-old composer
who won the Pulitzer
in 1976 for Air Music
25 Tucker of country
27 Part of TGIF
28 Ten, in Toulouse
29 Friendly relationships
31 She was Phoebe on
33 Building with 21 tables
35 On April 16, he
became the first
rapper to win the
Pulitzer (for his
album Damn)
40 Invigorates
41 Dalmatian feature
43 Like a triangle whose
sides are all different
46 Steeped drink
Greg Martin, La Crescenta, Calif.
49 Letter that looks like a
50 Phoebe of Gremlins
51 Rock legend who
won a special-citation
Pulitzer in 2008—eight
years before winning
the Nobel Prize in
53 Yoko of “Dear Yoko”
54 Follow secretly
57 5/29/1917, for JFK
58 Jazz family scion who
won the Pulitzer in
1997 for his oratorio
Blood on the Fields
62 Crazy, in Colombia
63 Fuss
64 Controversial coat
65 Canal from the Med to
the Red
66 Throw off, as poll
67 Company that created
Sonic the Hedgehog
1 ___-Caps (movie
theater candy)
2 Utopia
3 Ed of Elf
4 Punishment, in a
Biblical phrase
5 Part of a lowercase j
6 End of the lunch hour,
7 Costa ___
8 Ranked first on, as a
9 Female fawn, in the
10 Milan fashion house
11 Court shout
12 There are two in
17 Spelling of 90210
18 Dominicana or
Mexicana, e.g.
22 Org. for Raiders and
23 Miami Heat coach
24 Tax
26 Element’s particles
29 Invites for
30 www.marines.___
32 Perspective
34 Low card in a 5-high
36 Inflicts upon
37 ___ Swanson (Parks
and Rec role)
38 Putting into practice
39 Parks of Montgomery
42 Element with the
symbol Sn
43 Nasty looks
44 “Mind taking care of
this for me?”
45 Right away
47 Recedes
48 Hull House co-founder
51 Knife part
52 Certain Ivy Leaguer
55 Picnic invaders
56 “How’s it going?”
59 From A ___
60 Line of seats
61 Music from Jamaica
How to enter: Submissions should be emailed to Please include your name,
address, and daytime telephone number for verification;
this week, type “Animal man” in the subject line. Entries
are due by noon, Eastern Time, Tuesday, May 1. Winners
will appear on the Puzzle Page next
issue and at on
Friday, May 4. In the case of identical
or similar entries, the first one received
gets credit.
The winner gets a one-year
subscription to The Week.
Fill in all the
boxes so that
each row, column,
and outlined
square includes
all the numbers
from 1 through 9.
Find the solutions to all The Week’s puzzles online:
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