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The Week USA - May 25, 2018

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Why Iraqis
voted for
Jong Un
decision to
come out
On his own
McCain’s final message
to an America he fears
is losing its ideals
MAY 25, 2018 VOLUME 18 ISSUE 874
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Editor’s letter
John McCain still has something to say, even if a White House
press aide doesn’t think a dying man’s thoughts matter. “I don’t
remember another time in my life when so many Americans considered someone’s partisan affiliation a test of whether that person is entitled to respect,” the Arizona senator writes in a new
book. He fears we have lost our way. “Principled compromises
that move the country forward,” he says, are essential to a functioning democracy. Most unauthorized immigrants “are decent
people working hard to make better lives,” not the rapists or
drug dealers depicted by demagogues. Torture, which he personally endured as a POW, is a moral abomination that always debases both the tortured and the torturer. Our nation is diminished by “a half-baked, spurious nationalism” that has traded
true global leadership for self-interest and isolation. America’s
“devotion to human rights is our truest heritage,” he reminds us.
“We are a country with a conscience.”
In his 35 years in politics, McCain, 81, was no saint; he could
be petty and vindictive, and sometimes parked his principles to
win elections. But I always sensed he looked hard at the man in
the mirror and judged himself for his failings. Honor matters to
this old-school politician and patriot, and for that alone he deserves respect. Now McCain is showing us how to die. A good
death is a rare and invaluable gift, especially in our medicalized
culture. McCain recently left the hospital where he was being
treated for brain cancer and went home to his ranch, where he is
saying goodbye to his family and a steady procession of friends
from both parties; in quiet moments, he finds peace in watching
the hawks and hummingbirds and listening to a burbling stream
and the wind in the trees. (See Talking Points.) John McCain is
flawed, like all of us. But he has led a life of meaning, service,
and decency. We should all be so fortunate to
William Falk
live and die with such dignity and courage.
4 Main stories
Bloodshed as U.S. Embassy
opens in Jerusalem;
Supreme Court OKs
sports betting; Trump’s
about-face on China trade
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, Danny Funt, 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
Is Trump’s tough-talk
foreign policy starting to
bear fruit?
7 The U.S. at a glance
Hawaii prepares for a
major volcanic eruption;
Seattle hits big firms with
an anti-homelessness tax
8 The world at a glance
A deadly ISIS attack in
Paris; Russia cements its
control over Crimea
10 People
Janelle Monáe on coming
out as pansexual; the spy
who became a beat cop
Shutterstock, AP
11 Briefing
Why tick- and mosquitoborne diseases are on the
rise in the U.S.
12 Best U.S. columns
Erasing Obama’s fragile
legacy; John Kelly’s
immigration fallacy
15 Best international
An old U.S. foe emerges
as a political force in Iraq
16 Talking points
A maverick senator’s
final act; the Democrats’
midterm hopes imperiled;
Michael Cohen’s swampy
influence peddling
EVP, publisher: John Guehl
Ivanka Trump unveils a plaque at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. (p.4)
22 Books
A theoretical physicist
probes the nature of
23 Author of the week
Chuck Palahniuk on
American tribalism
24 Art & Stage
vestments get
a high-fashion
twist at a new
25 Film & Music
A rape victim
hunts down
her abusers in
27 Food & Drink
Three tasty restaurants
beyond city limits
28 Travel
A coast-to-coast hike
across England
29 Consumer
This summer’s hottest
beach trends
32 News at a glance
CBS goes to war with the
Redstones; NAFTA deal
looks unlikely
33 Making money
Apple and Goldman Sachs
team up on credit card
34 Best columns
Trump’s plan to lower
drug prices; shipping’s
shrinking margins
Sales development director:
Samuel Homburger
Account directors: Shelley Adler,
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Company founder: Felix Dennis
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THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The main stories...
Dozens killed in Gaza clashes as new embassy opens
What happened
It wasn’t all bad
QWhen Xia Boyu made his first
attempt to scale Mount Everest
in 1975, he came close to the
peak before being forced back by
high-altitude storms. The Chinese
mountaineer lost both his feet on
the ill-fated climb. But that didn’t
stop Xia from trying again. And
again. This week, the 69-year-old
finally conquered the 29,029-foot
mountain on his fifth attempt,
making him the third double amputee to reach the summit and the
first to do it on the Nepal side. The
climb was “a personal challenge,”
Xia says, “a challenge of fate.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
QIn Australia, James Harrison is known as “the man with
the golden arm.” Every few weeks for the past six decades,
he has overcome his strong dislike of needles and given
blood—saving the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian
babies in the process. Harrison’s exceptionally rare blood
type contains antibodies
that are used to make
Anti-D, a medicine given
to mothers whose blood
is at risk of attacking their
unborn babies. Last week,
the 81-year-old gave his
last donation, having
reached the maximum age
allowed for donors in Australia. “It was sad,” Harrison said, “because I felt
like I could keep going.”
Harrison: Lifesaver
QBrooklyn native Sylvia Bloom
lived a modest life. She worked
as a legal secretary for seven
decades, finally retiring at age 96,
and always took the subway to the
office. So her family and friends
were shocked to discover after her
death that Bloom had left $8.2 million for scholarship funds that
help disadvantaged students. She
quietly built her fortune by observing her bosses’ investments over
the years, and then buying smaller
amounts of the same stock. “She
was a child of the Depression,”
a colleague says of her bequest.
“She wanted everybody to have a
fair shake.”
Illustration by Howard McWilliam.
On the cover: Sen. John McCain.
Cover photos from Newscom, AP, Newscom
Heidi Levine/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock, Newscom
“Israel has every right to defend its
borders,” said The New York Times,
Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinand Gazans are “undermining their own
ians near the border fence with Gaza this
cause by resorting to violence.” But given
week, overshadowing a ceremony formally
that the overwhelming majority of prorelocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from
testers were unarmed, could Israeli solTel Aviv to Jerusalem. About 40,000 mostdiers not have used tear gas, water canly unarmed Gazans had gathered along the
non, and other nonlethal measures rather
border as part of a Hamas-backed protest
than live ammunition? As for Trump’s
that began seven weeks ago but expanded
decision to transfer the U.S. Embassy,
because of anger over the U.S. Embassy
that puts an end to “70 years of Ameridecision. Egged on by organizers, some
can neutrality” on the Israel-Palestine
protesters tried to breach the fence, while
issue. The U.S. has lost all credibility as a
others used slingshots to propel rocks
fair broker in any peace process.
over the border and flew burning kites
Palestinians charging the border fence
into Israeli fields. When tear gas failed to
What the columnists said
disperse the crowds rushing the fence, Israeli snipers began picking
The Left’s double standard on Israel really is breathtaking, said
people off. The Gazan health ministry claimed 1,350 were injured
David French in No military force in history
by gunfire; Israel, whose troops suffered no injuries, questioned
has been able to “control hostile armed mobs with exclusively nonthose figures, and noted that Hamas had admitted that 50 of the
lethal means,” and hidden among the crowds of Gazan protesters
dead were its own operatives. The killings attracted widespread
were Hamas terrorists hoping to breach the border and “shoot or
international condemnation, with the U.N. declaring that those
stab Israeli civilians.” Israel had no choice but to defend its citizens.
responsible “must be held to account.” But the Trump administration fully backed the Netanyahu government’s actions. “Israel has
But look at this from the Gaza side of the fence, said Nathan
the right to self-defense,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah.
Feldman in The Baltimore Sun. Thanks in large part to Israel’s de
“Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths.”
facto occupation, Gaza has long been “unlivable,” with 60 percent
youth unemployment, limited water and electricity, and widespread
In Jerusalem, Israeli and U.S. officials hailed President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy as a symbolically important move. poverty and desperation. Gazans have “nothing to lose and no way
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “glorious to leave.” No wonder they run into Israeli bullets. Given the simulday.” Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who along with his wife, taneous carnage at the border, the happy mood at the ceremony in
Ivanka, led the U.S. delegation, said peace was “within reach.” The Jerusalem was bizarre, said Kathleen Parker in The Washington
Gazan protesters, Kushner said, were “part of the problem and not Post. And while “moving the embassy may have been the right
thing to do,” Trump did it for self-serving political reasons—to
part of the solution.”
solidify his support from right-wing Jews and evangelicals. He
even invited two extremist evangelical preachers who say Muslims,
What the editorials said
Catholics, Mormons, and Jews are all going to hell.
These weren’t protests, said The Weekly Standard, they were
“suicide riots.” Knowing that Palestinian bodies elicit Western
By relocating the embassy, Trump has stripped America’s Israelsympathy, Hamas encouraged young men to “storm the fence”
Palestinian policy of “all nuance,” said Paul Waldman in
and kill Israelis—leaving the Israeli snipers with no choice but to
“fire back” at the invaders. It’s disingenuous to claim these protests He has made it clear “we care only about
Israel’s interests.” What this means is grimly obvious: The U.S. is
were about the transfer of the U.S. Embassy, said The Wall Street
Journal. Hamas is ultimately driven by its “eternal war against the no longer working toward “the eventual creation of a Palestinian
state,” Netanyahu can do whatever he likes without fear of U.S.
existence of the Jewish state”—not by “where America puts its
objection, and the Palestinians have no reason for hope.
... and how they were covered
Supreme Court OKs legal sports gambling
What happened
ate $8.4 billion a year in new tax revenues.
Individual franchises will become more
The Supreme Court this week struck down
valuable as interest in game results grows.
a federal law that had effectively banned
And sports gambling “could be a lifeline”
sports betting in most states, clearing the
for TV networks that have seen viewership
way for an explosion of legalized gambling
for live games slump in recent years even as
on professional and amateur sports. In a 6-3
they kept shelling out billions of dollars in
vote, the court sided with a challenge brought
rights fees. More viewers will stay tuned,
by New Jersey, which had argued that the
because they’ll be “literally invested in the
1992 Professional and Amateur Sports
outcome of a game,” and ad money from
Protection Act—from which Nevada was
betting firms is certain to flood in.
exempted—violated states’ rights to regulate
activity within their borders. “A more direct
Sports betting in Las Vegas: Now going national
Sure, everybody wins—except the gamblers,
affront to state sovereignty is not easy to
imagine,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion. Casino said Jim Geraghty in New Jersey fought
against the ban in part because it thinks sports gambling can revitalstocks jumped following the ruling, and state lawmakers in New
Jersey and elsewhere vowed to pass bills to regulate and tax legalized ize Atlantic City. Well, I’ve been to Atlantic City, “and I found the
sports betting. Gaming industry experts estimate that Americans cur- place deeply depressing.” There are pawnshops around the corner
from the casinos with signs reading “We Buy Wedding Rings.”
rently place at least $150 billion in illegal sports bets each year.
Many sports fans will likely convince themselves that because
The NBA and the MLB immediately began pressing for a 1 percent sports are contests between humans of different abilities, picking
cut of the action as an “integrity fee” to help them guard against
a winner—unlike at the roulette wheel—is a matter of thoughtful
corruption of players and referees. But critics warned that making
analysis, not luck. Yet no amount of savvy can beat the house.
it easy and legal to bet on popular sports could lead to a surge in
Personally, I’m not thrilled at the idea of standing in a stadium
gambling addiction, and demanded that Congress tax gaming revsurrounded by “lunatics making in-game bets on their phones,”
enues to pay for treatment. “We’ve opened up a real circus here,”
said Jason Gay in The Wall Street Journal. And yet Europe legalsaid Arnie Wexler, a certified compulsive gambling counselor.
ized sports gambling years ago, and soccer fans there seem to
What the columnists said
enjoy the game just as much as ever. So the court’s ruling is “probThis decision “will create far more winners than losers,” said Chris ably not the end of the world, nor the dawn of a brilliant new
one.” It’ll be something in between. “At least that’s my bet. That,
Smith in Cash-hungry states will see their coffers
swell—a recent study suggested legalized sports betting could gener- and the Celtics in 6.”
Trump offers surprise relief to Chinese firm
What happened
What the columnists said
President Trump unexpectedly softened his position on trade
negotiations with China this week by pledging to save a major
Chinese telecommunications firm from crippling U.S. sanctions.
In an about-face that stunned even his own advisers, Trump
tweeted that he had ordered the Commerce Department to help
Chinese smartphone maker ZTE “get back into business fast,”
saying that its failure would cost “too many jobs in China.” In
2017, the Commerce Department fined ZTE $1.2 billion for
selling electronics to Iran and North Korea, in violation of U.S.
sanctions, and last month barred U.S. technology firms from
selling parts to the company for seven years. Unable to find
alternative suppliers, ZTE, which employs 75,000 people, began
to shutter its operations last week.
“It now seems to be dawning on Donald Trump that trade wars
are neither good nor easy to win,” said Jordan Weissmann in Trump knows he has to de-escalate tensions with China
because he needs Beijing’s help in upcoming nuclear negotiations
with North Korea. Relaxing sanctions on ZTE is a prerequisite
for China’s engagement. “If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person,
you could look at this and see a president capable of learning.”
U.S. trade negotiators are now reportedly working with their
Chinese counterparts on a deal that would relieve the penalties
against ZTE in exchange for Beijing removing tariffs on billions of
dollars of American agricultural products. Even so, U.S. lawmakers from both parties criticized Trump’s surprise concession,
saying his move could undermine the U.S. negotiating position,
as well as national security. U.S. intelligence officials have warned
that ZTE phones and modems could be used by the Chinese
government to spy on Americans. Trump defended his decision,
saying it was in the country’s best interest because U.S. suppliers
would otherwise lose ZTE’s business. “This is also reflective of the
larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal
relationship with President Xi,” the president tweeted.
But this “particular quid pro quo sets a dangerous precedent,”
said David Fickling in The penalties on ZTE
weren’t meant to be a negotiating chip: The company broke the
law by violating American sanctions and then lying about it. Allowing Beijing to essentially buy a “get-out-of-jail-free card” sends
a terrible message. “Any government entangled in a dispute with
Washington now knows that it need only threaten the Trumpvoting farm belt to get off the hook.”
“Something fishy is happening,” said Matthew Yglesias in Vox
.com. The president just surrendered one of his biggest sources of
trade leverage against the Chinese, “with no explanation, no background briefing, and seemingly no consultation with the relevant
officials.” Two days before he “flip-flopped,” however, a Chinese
state-owned company approved a $500 million loan to Indonesian
developers for a Trump-branded resort outside Jakarta. “Under
normal political circumstances,” it would be outlandish to suggest
the president is being bribed by a foreign country for his own
personal gain. But in 2018, nothing is normal.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Controversy of the week
Trump’s foreign policy: Is unpredictability paying off?
rewards for each step of a long process of surrendering
“Fortune favors the bold,” said in
weapons. Trump may well give him what he wants.
an editorial, and with President Trump in the Oval Office,
that’s good news for U.S. foreign policy. Now that he’s
Don’t be so sure, said David Brooks in The New York
settled into his job, and freed himself from the coterie of
Times. Trump learned his bargaining skills in the shark
cautious advisers who initially tried to curb his natural
tank of New York real estate and Atlantic City casinos,
instincts, the president’s “rough talk and firm resolve” are
where his dealings with mobsters, bullying lawyers, and
bearing fruit in a big way on the world stage. His critics in
cutthroat businessmen gave him an instinctive feel for
the media and foreign policy establishment had
the “thug mind.” He may be better equipped to
fainting spells when Trump warned North
deal with Kim and the belligerent Iranian
Korea’s Kim Jong Un that the U.S. would
regime than “people who attended our
not tolerate his nuclear threats. Trump, they
prestigious Foreign Service academies.”
cried, will get us in “a shooting war.” Now
An instinctive understanding of the ‘thug mind’
What Trump understands, said Jim
a strikingly less aggressive Kim has made a
is that “sometimes for diplomacy
date—June 12—to talk peace with Trump in Singapore. Unlike
to be effective, it has to be pursued in a way that makes diplomats
President Obama, Trump does not believe his job is to stoically
uncomfortable.” Fear has its purposes.
manage our decline in “a post-American world,” said Walter
Russell Mead in The Wall Street Journal. Instead, he is aggressively
It’s true that “unpredictability can be a useful tool of statecraft,”
asserting U.S. interests—announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the
said Daniel Levy in “But deploying it requires
nuclear deal with Iran and finally moving our embassy in Israel
a carefully constructed premeditated strategy,” and no one serifrom Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The message to our allies and enemies
ously thinks Trump has one of those—either for getting past North
around the world could not be clearer. Trump firmly believes in
Korea’s inevitable evasions or for how to respond if Iran resumes
“the assertion of American power.”
uranium enrichment. For all his supposed new assertiveness, Trump
is actually “following, not leading” on the world stage. His pivot
Our adversaries may not be so easily cowed, said Margaret
to diplomacy with North Korea followed South Korean President
Hartmann in This week North Korea “started actMoon Jae-in’s lead, while Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal
ing like North Korea again,” threatening to cancel the summit and
and the embassy move to Jerusalem both came straight off the wish
warning that if the Trump administration continues to publicly
list of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump’s only
demand “our unilateral nuclear abandonment,” all peace talks are
consistent strategy, said Daniel Drezner in,
off. Kim knows that Trump “is desperate for a deal” that would
is to “win every news cycle,” regardless of the consequences. But
validate his claim to be a great president, said Fred Kaplan in Slate
.com. That gives him leverage now and in Singapore—where he will anticipating and engineering long-term consequences are what foreign policy is all about. Unfortunately, this unpredictable, impulsive
likely refuse to give up his nuclear weapons all at once, insist that
president “does not think in those terms.”
the U.S. draw down forces in South Korea, and ask for economic
QA New York City man is
suing the makers of Halo
Top diet ice cream, claiming
their “false, deceptive, and
misleading” labeling led him
to buy a healthier pint of ice
cream than he wanted. Josh
Berger alleges that the words
“light ice cream” are printed
too small on Halo Top’s labels,
thus fooling him into thinking
he was buying ice cream with
the usual 10 percent milk fat.
QA Texas public school
teacher was suspended after
she told students about her
“future wife.” During a “Know
Your Teacher” presentation, art teacher Stacy Bailey
showed students a photo of
the woman she went on to
marry. A parent complained
that Bailey was promoting a
“homosexual agenda,” and
school officials disciplined the
teacher for sharing “personal
beliefs regarding political or
sectarian issues.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Good week for:
Tributes, which poured in after the death of journalist and novelist
Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities,
and other pioneering work. (An obituary will be in our next issue.)
The neighbors, after a British judge ordered Heather Webb, 48,
to cease singing opera loudly in her own apartment. “She sounds
like a drowning cat, to be honest,” said neighbor Paul Burford.
Corrections, after a Swedish woman changed her 2-year-old
son’s name from Kevin to Kelvin to match the misspelled tattoo of
his name on her arm. Johanna Sandström said she “thought I was
going to faint” upon first seeing the typo, but now thinks Kelvin,
an exotic name in Sweden, “is better than Kevin.”
Bad week for:
Corrections, after U.S. apparel maker The Gap apologized to
China for selling a T-shirt that featured an “incorrect map” of the
country, which did not include the disputed island of Taiwan. The
company said the omission was “unintentional.”
Common sense, with the proposal by an Australian “sexuality
educator” that parents should ask their baby’s permission before
changing diapers. Deanne Carson concedes that newborns are illequipped to give consent, but insists that just by asking the question
parents are “letting that child know that their response matters.”
Hot pursuit, with the arrest on stalking and harassment charges
of Jacqueline Ades, 31, a Florida woman who sent more than
65,000 text messages to a man with whom she had just one date.
Ades conceded the number of texts was excessive, but explained
that “love is an excessive thing.”
Boring but important
White House blocks
chemical pollution study
The White House and
Environmental Protection
Agency squelched a federal
water pollution study after a
Trump aide warned that its
publication would be a “public
relations nightmare,” Politico
.com reported this week. The
Department of Health and
Human Services report found
that industrial chemicals
called PFOA and PFOS have
contaminated water supplies
near manufacturing plants,
military bases, and other sites
and are dangerous at far lower
levels than the EPA previously
called safe. The chemicals
have been linked to thyroid
defects, pregnancy problems,
and some cancers. In January,
a White House aide wrote that
the reaction to the study was
“going to be extremely painful” for the administration. The
report remains unpublished.
Only in America
The U.S. at a glance ...
Anti-homelessness tax: Seattle defied
major companies such as Amazon and
Starbucks this week by passing a new
corporate tax to
fund programs
addressing the
city’s growing
crisis. The
City Council
approved a
Aid on the way
“head tax” of
$275 on each employee at businesses that
make at least $20 million a year in revenue, affecting nearly 600 large employers. The measure is expected to raise
about $48 million annually, which will
go toward building affordable housing
and providing emergency services to the
homeless. The Seattle metro region has
the third-largest homeless population in
the U.S.; a count last year showed
11,600 homeless people in surrounding King County. The initial proposal called for a $500
per employee tax, which triggered howls of outrage from
local business groups. Amazon
even halted construction plans
on a 17-story downtown building in protest. Council members
eventually decided on a lower
rate, fearing a mayoral veto.
Newscom (3), Getty
Pahoa, Hawaii
‘Red alert’: Hawaii residents braced this week for
the possibility of a major
eruption as a
plume of ash
and volcanic
gas rose from
the Big Island’s
turbulent Kilauea
volcano. The
U.S. Geological
Kilauea: About to blow?
Survey issued
a “red alert” and warned aircraft to
stay away from the area. Scientists fear
that an eruption caused by a buildup of
underground steam at the top of Kilauea
could spew ash as far as 12 miles from
the summit. Kilauea has been erupting
continuously since 1983, but the level of
volcanic activity has increased sharply in
recent weeks. More than 20 fissures have
opened in the earth since May 3, sending
lava flows and clouds of toxic sulfurdioxide gas into nearby neighborhoods.
The eruptions have forced the evacuation
of 2,000 residents, but there have been no
deaths or major injuries reported so far.
New York City
Leak suspect: Federal authorities have
identified a suspect in a massive leak that
exposed top-secret CIA cyberweapons
and spying techniques. Joshua Adam
Schulte, a former CIA employee, is being
held in a Manhattan jail on unrelated
charges of possessing child pornography.
The government believes that Schulte provided WikiLeaks with the stolen archive
of CIA hacking tools that the organization
published in March 2017 under the label
“Vault 7.” It was the largest leak of classified documents in CIA history, revealing
intricate details of America’s online spying
capabilities, including tools for commandeering iPhones and smart TVs. Although
authorities searched Schulte’s apartment
shortly after WikiLeaks disclosed the
materials, he hasn’t been charged in connection with the breach. Schulte has said
that he is being unfairly targeted because
he spoke out about “incompetent management and bureaucracy” at the CIA.
Arkansas and Texas
Migrant children: The Trump administration is preparing to hold migrant children
on military bases, separated from their
families, as part of an effort to deter
people from crossing the border illegally.
The Department of Health and Human
Services is evaluating four military installations in Arkansas and Texas as potential
shelters for minors under 18. The Justice
Department recently announced plans
to file criminal charges against anyone
caught crossing the border illegally, and
said that parents traveling with children
will be held in immigration detention
facilities and their children put in state
custody. Today, families with children and
unaccompanied minors make up 40 percent of illegal border crossings, compared
with 10 percent five years ago. The
military has been used to house children
before. More than 7,000 migrant children
were sheltered at bases in Oklahoma,
Texas, and California at the peak of the
2014 child-migration crisis.
Washington, D.C.
Probes spiked: Most members of a special Department
of Education team tasked
with investigating abusive
practices by for-profit
colleges have been
reassigned under
Secretary Betsy
DeVos, effectively
DeVos: Dismantled team
killing multiple
probes. Under the Obama administration,
roughly a dozen lawyers and investigators
had been examining potentially fraudulent
advertising and recruitment practices at
institutions such as DeVry, Bridgepoint
Education, and Career Education Corp.
That team now numbers just three people
supervised by Julian Schmoke, a former
dean at DeVry, now known as Adtalem
Global Education. DeVry agreed to a
$100 million settlement with the Federal
Trade Commission in 2016 after it was
accused of misleading students
about the employment and
post-graduation salaries of
alumni. Bridgeport and Career
Education were facing similar
investigations. The team’s activities
have been dramatically scaled back
to focus on processing student loan forgiveness applications.
Washington, D.C.
Cabinet tensions:
Homeland Security
Secretary Kirstjen
Nielsen drafted a
resignation letter
last week after
President Trump
berated her during
Nielsen: Fed up?
a Cabinet meeting for what he said was her failure to
adequately secure the nation’s borders,
according to The number of
arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border, considered a proxy for illegal crossings, fell to its
lowest level since 1971 last year, but it’s
been increasing steadily in recent months,
and Nielsen has received the lion’s share of
Trump’s blame for that reversal. Several
of Trump’s advisers have also complained
to him that Nielsen, a veteran of the Bush
administration, wasn’t a vocal supporter
of his during the 2016 campaign and may
not fully support his agenda. The tensions
spilled into the open during last week’s
Cabinet meeting, with Trump reportedly
going on a tirade aimed at Nielsen for
30 minutes, while uncomfortable Cabinet
members fidgeted in their seats. Nielsen,
who has denied threatening to resign, said
in a written statement that Trump “is
rightly frustrated” by illegal immigration.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The world at a glance ...
Soros forced out: Open Society
Foundations, the pro-democracy
group founded by Hungarian-born
U.S. billionaire George Soros, is
moving its Budapest operations to
Germany because of a Hungarian
government crackdown on civil
society organizations that targeted
An anti-Soros billboard
it specifically. Right-wing Prime
Minister Viktor Orban has railed against Soros, whose Jewish
family fled Hungary in the 1940s to escape the Nazis, portraying
him as a sinister financier intent on flooding Europe with Muslim
refugees. Orban was re-elected last month on a pledge to pass a
“Stop Soros” package of laws that would effectively outlaw the
NGO. The Soros-founded Central European University, one of the
country’s top schools, says it, too, may relocate. “You can’t run a
university in legal limbo,” said rector Michael Ignatieff.
Kiev, Ukraine
Dolphin hunger strike? Ukraine said this week
that its military dolphins stationed in Crimea
refused to eat after Russia seized control of
the peninsula, and have since starved to death.
After the 2014 annexation, Ukrainian authorities gave the Russian military the whistles and
other gear they had used to train some 10 dolphins in marine combat, Ukrainian official
Boris Babin told the Obozrevatel newspaper,
Flipper flap
but the combat dolphins rejected their new
masters. Russian lawmaker Dmitry Belik called the report “nonsense,” saying the elderly dolphins, left over from a Soviet-era
program, had either died or been sold to private aquariums long
before the Russians arrived.
Deadly ISIS attack: Shouting “Allahu akbar!” a Chechen-born
French citizen stabbed five people in downtown Paris last week,
killing one before police shot him dead. The attack happened
in a neighborhood near the Paris Opera, and restaurant owners
barred their doors and told guests to hide. “Even the bar owners
know what to do now,” witness Alexis Bergoin said. “Actually,
we all know what to do.” A day after the rampage, ISIS released
a cellphone video of the attacker, 20-year-old Khamzat Azimov,
pledging allegiance to the terrorist group and saying France is
responsible for his actions because it is “bombing Islamic lands.”
Azimov had been flagged as a potential terrorist risk on a French
government watch list; police say they cannot possibly surveil all
20,000 people on the list.
Quito, Ecuador
$5 million for Assange: Ecuadorans were outraged to discover this
week that their government has paid at least $5 million for security
to keep fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the
country’s London embassy. A report by investigative
group Focus Ecuador and The Guardian found that
since 2012 a secret intelligence fund has been used to
pay a security company and undercover agents to monitor Assange’s visitors and all comings and goings at the
building. The WikiLeaks founder sought sanctuary at
the Ecuadoran Embassy after losing his legal fight
against extradition to Sweden, where two women
accused him of rape. He claims he risks being extradited to the U.S. to face trial for publishing state
A costly guest secrets if he leaves the embassy.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Losing control of oil: U.S. energy
giant ConocoPhillips seized key
Venezuelan oil storage and refinery facilities
in the Caribbean this week, a precedentsetting move that could result in a stampede
Up for grabs
of creditors rushing to take over the cashstarved nation’s foreign assets. Conoco recently won court orders
saying it is entitled to $2 billion from Venezuela’s state-owned oil
giant PDVSA, to compensate for the 2007 nationalization of its
assets in Venezuela. It has now grabbed control of PDVSA facilities on islands such as Bonaire and Curaçao that are used for
exporting Venezuelan crude to Asia. Last week, Canada’s Rusoro
Mining filed suit to seize assets of Citgo, the Venezuelan-owned
U.S. refiner. “This is going to set off a domino effect,” said Diego
Moya-Ocampos, an analyst at research firm IHS Markit.
Newscom, TNS, Getty (2), Newscom
Surge in border crossings: Canada is facing an influx of refugees
who are entering the country from the U.S. and using a legal loophole to seek asylum. Because the U.S. is considered a safe country,
asylum seekers who try to enter Canada at official border crossings
are supposed to be turned back. But under the loophole, those who
cross illegally must have their asylum applications considered. As
the U.S. tightened its immigration rules, some
20,000 refugees walked across the border last
year—a tenfold rise over 2016. The government is now considering closing the loophole.
Canadians have “always patted themselves on
the back for being very open to immigration,”
said Irene Bloemraad, a Canada expert at the
University of California, Berkeley, but now
Heading north
they realize “it’s not so easy.”
The world at a glance ...
Newscom (2), Getty, AP
Kerch Strait, Russia
Bridge to Crimea: Russian President
Vladimir Putin this week drove a big
orange truck across a new bridge connecting Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from
Ukraine in 2014. The nearly 12-mile
bridge, which cost $3.6 billion to
Putin: Truck-driving man
build and is the longest in Europe,
is intended to show that the peninsula is now an integral part of
Russia. Putin said the project would bring Russia and Crimea,
which is not linked to Russia by land, “closer to each other” and
allow the peninsula to grow at a “new economic tempo.” Ukraine
denounced the construction as a gross violation of its sovereign
borders, and the U.S. State Department said it was an example of
“Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law.”
Surabaya, Indonesia
Children as suicide bombers: A wave of deadly ISIS-inspired suicide bombings carried out by two families—including their young
children—hit Indonesia’s second-largest city this week. A family
of six, with children ages 9 to 18, killed at least seven people by
bombing three churches; just hours later, another militant family
of five riding two motorbikes blew themselves up outside police
headquarters in the city, killing four of the family and two others.
The family’s 7-year-old daughter
was thrown clear of the explosion and survived. Another family
of six accidentally blew up their
apartment while making bombs;
three of the children survived.
All three fathers were believed to
be members of the ISIS-inspired
group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah.
Mourning the murdered
Diplomatic car crash: A U.S. diplomat accused of running a
red light and killing a motorcyclist has left Pakistan, two days
after local authorities blocked him from boarding a military
plane. Pakistani officials initially refused to let military attaché
Col. Joseph Hall fly out of the country, saying he must face a
criminal investigation for the car accident, but the U.S. insisted
he had diplomatic immunity. The spat was just the latest tussle
between the two countries, which have been at odds since
January, when the U.S. froze all security aid to Pakistan after
President Trump tweeted that the country had failed to crack
down on terrorists and given the U.S. “nothing but lies and
deceit.” The U.S. now requires Pakistani diplomats to get permission to travel more than 25 miles from their embassy; Pakistan is
implementing similar restrictions on American diplomats.
Chengdu, China
Pilots’ midair scare: A Sichuan
Airlines plane heading to Tibet
had to make an emergency landing this week after its windshield shattered
High-altitude crack-up
at 32,000 feet and a co-pilot was nearly
sucked out of the cockpit. “Suddenly, the windshield just cracked
and made a loud bang,” said pilot Liu Chuanjian. “The next
thing I knew, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the
window.” The co-pilot, who was wearing a seat belt, was pulled
back into the plane; he suffered scratches and a sprained wrist. A
flight attendant and 29 of the 119 passengers were also injured.
The plane landed safely in Chengdu, and many Chinese social
media users lauded the flight crew as heroes. “Give the pilot a
raise!” said one. “Give the first officer a paid vacation!”
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ibrahim released: Malaysia’s newly elected Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad has secured the release
of the country’s most famous political prisoner:
longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. For
much of the 1990s, Ibrahim was seen as the heir
to Mahathir, who led the country from 1981
to 2003. But after a falling-out in 1998, Anwar
was sacked as Mahathir’s deputy premier and
Walking free
charged with corruption and sodomy. He spent
nine of the past 20 years in prison, and the two men’s rivalry
defined Malaysian politics. But the pair reconciled in 2016, and
Mahathir, 92, deserted the ruling party. In a shock win, he led
the opposition to victory in last week’s election—the first time
Malaysia’s government has changed in six decades—by promising
to fight corruption and free Anwar. The elder statesman says he
will hand power within two years to Anwar.
Flight 370 mystery solved? The pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight
370, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, likely crashed the plane on
purpose, killing all 239 people on board, aviation experts told
Australia’s 60 Minutes this week. The Beijing-bound plane
disappeared from radar screens less than an hour after takeoff
from Kuala Lumpur in 2014, and pieces of its wreckage washed
up years later in Africa. Simon Hardy, a Boeing 777 pilot and
instructor, re-created the plane’s flight plan using military radar
records, and determined that Shah crisscrossed Malaysian and
Thai airspace to evade detection. Hardy also noticed that Shah,
53, probably dipped the plane’s wing over the island of Penang,
perhaps to take one last look at his birthplace. “He was killing himself,” said Canadian air crash investigator Larry Vance.
“Unfortunately, he was killing everybody else on board, and he
did it deliberately.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Life as Weinstein’s wife
Georgina Chapman never suspected that her
husband was a monster, said Jonathan Van
Meter in Vogue. When numerous women came
forward late last year to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, harassment, and
abuse, the fashion designer says she fell into a
kind of stupor. “I lost 10 pounds in five days,”
says Chapman, 42. “I couldn’t keep food down.”
For five months after the story broke, she barely went out in public. “I didn’t think it was respectful to go out. I thought, ‘Who am I
to be parading around with all of this going on?’” Chapman, who
has two children with Weinstein, insists she never had suspicions
about her husband’s behavior. “There was a part of me that was
terribly naïve. I had what I thought was a very happy marriage.
I loved my life.” Many people now wonder what she ever saw in
Weinstein, whom she married in 2007, but Chapman says the man
she knew was charismatic and bright. “And very charitable. This
black-and-white thing, life isn’t like that.” Still, when the news
broke in October, Chapman knew she had to take the kids and
leave; she’s now finalizing a divorce. In the meantime, her mood
bounces between “confusion” and “rage.” There are “moments
when I just cry for my children. What are their lives going to be?”
The spy who became a neighborhood cop
Monáe’s fearless coming out
Janelle Monáe used to only hint at her sexuality through metaphors and alter egos, said Brittany Spanos in Rolling Stone. Now
the singer and actress is speaking openly about being pansexual,
or, as she puts it, “a free-ass motherf---er.” For years, Monáe says,
she hid behind a robotic public persona—whose response to
dating questions was “I only date androids”—to stop people prying into her personal life. It also meant she didn’t have to come
out to her sprawling, strict Baptist family. Growing up in Kansas
City, Monáe heard some relatives say they believed that “all gay
people are going to hell.” Today, not all members of her large
family—“I got 50 first cousins!”—know about her romantic life,
but they have likely all seen her wear sheer pants and share a
lollipop with Tessa Thompson, her rumored girlfriend, in a recent
music video. “I literally do not have time,” she says with a laugh,
“to hold a town-hall meeting with my family and be like, ‘News
flash!’” Monáe, 32, hopes that by publicly coming out now, she
can help fans who might be struggling with their own sexuality.
“I want girls and boys who are feeling ostracized or bullied for
just being their unique selves to know that I see you. Be proud.”
equality. “Hello, irony!” Lewinsky observed.
QDonald Trump Jr. is reportedly dating
QMonica Lewinsky accepted an invitation
to the Town & Country Philanthropy
Summit, only to get a call from the
magazine asking that she arrive late to
the conference but in time for the luncheon. Why? Bill Clinton had agreed to
deliver opening remarks, but he’d be
gone by lunchtime. Lewinsky declined
to show up after her former paramour
left. “I’m still stuck in the cocoon of
1998,” Lewinsky wrote afterward,
referencing the year news broke of her
affair with then–President Clinton. “The
notion that I would be so casually discarded seems backwards and patently
absurd.” The summit had several themes,
including ways to advance gender
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, after his
wife of 12 years, Vanessa, filed for divorce
in March. The new couple was seen at a
party in Manhattan for the ambassador to
Germany. Trump Jr., 40, is finalizing his divorce from Vanessa, with whom he has five
children. Guilfoyle, 49, is co-host of The Five
and an outspoken supporter of the Trump
administration. She was briefly considered
for the job of White House press secretary,
and last year was rumored to be dating
President Trump’s short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci. News
of Don Jr.’s rebound comes after tabloids
unearthed details of Vanessa Trump’s highschool romance with a convicted felon who
belongs to the Latin Kings gang.
QMeghan Markle’s father, Thomas, may
skip the royal wedding out of embarrassment, after he was caught staging photos
for the paparazzi. In advance of walking his
daughter down the aisle for her marriage
to Prince Harry on May 19, the 73-year-old
Markle posed for a series of faux-candid
photos in Mexico, where he now lives. In
one shot he pretended to get fitted for a
tuxedo, and in another he posed reading an
online article about London. Meghan’s estranged half-sister, Samantha Grant, took
responsibility. “The media was unfairly
making him look bad so I suggested he do
positive photos,” she tweeted. “We had
no idea he would be taken advantage of.”
Prince Harry has yet to meet his future father-in-law, who now says he won’t attend
the wedding, to avoid being a distraction.
Getty (2), Newscom
Patrick Skinner is now a beat cop in Savannah, but for nearly a
decade he was on the front lines of the war on terror, said Ben Taub
in The New Yorker. He joined the CIA in the wake of 9/11 and
went on to become a top counterterrorism operative, serving stints
in Afghanistan, Jordan, and Iraq. But he grew disillusioned with the
work: Higher-ups routinely ignored the assessments of field officers
like him, and local assets often tried to convince Skinner that their
personal or tribal rivals were actually terrorists. “They might tell
you it’s to help their country—they know we love to hear that—
when it’s actually revenge.” He left the CIA in 2010 and joined a
private intelligence firm, but in 2016 decided a better use of his
training would be as a community police officer in his hometown
of Savannah—even though it meant a pay cut of $100,000 a year.
Being on the beat has made Skinner, 47, rethink much about his
foreign service. “[We’d get] strategic white papers saying things like,
‘Get the local Sunni population on our side.’ Cool. Got it. But then,
if I say, ‘Get the people who live at 38th and Bulloch on our side,’
you realize, man, that’s hard—and it’s just a city block.” In Iraq and
Afghanistan, he now believes, “we were trying to do nation building with less information than I get at police roll call.”
Rise of the ticks
Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases are a growing danger of the American outdoors.
How serious is the threat?
are not understood. Lyme is almost never
fatal, but other bacterial tick-borne disIt’s become a real concern for anyone
eases can be, including Rocky Mountain
who spends time in the outdoors. Ticks
spotted fever, which is carried by dog ticks
and mosquitoes that can be found in
and wood ticks. Some tick-borne diseases
backyards, the woods, fields, and even
are viral, and thus cannot be treated with
cities are transmitting Lyme disease, anaantibiotics. Powassan virus can cause perplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain
manent brain damage and lead to death;
spotted fever, and a host of other illnesses.
also potentially deadly are the recently disReported cases of these diseases more than
covered Heartland and Bourbon viruses.
tripled between 2004 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control
What about mosquitoes?
and Prevention. Part of that rise, from
Like ticks, mosquitoes are spreading
27,388 cases to 96,075, is attributable
because of climate change. Long periods
to the mosquito-borne Zika outbreak in
of sub-freezing temperatures that used
South Florida in 2016. But tick-borne illto kill off certain kinds of mosquitoes—
nesses are truly epidemic, with a doubling
including the Aedes species that spreads
of reported cases over that period, as the
dengue, yellow fever, and Zika—are no
bloodthirsty arachnids expand into new
longer guaranteed. Warmer temperatures
regions of the U.S. Scientists have also
discovered nine new vector-borne diseases, An adult deer tick, which can cause Lyme disease enable the insects to survive farther north,
and increase the amount of time they’re
some of them potentially fatal. “These are
active. In 10 U.S. cities, the warm and humid mosquito season is
more than summertime nuisances,” says Lyle Petersen, director of
as much as a month longer than it was in 1980. Mosquito-borne
the CDC’s Vector-Borne Diseases division. “People really do need
illnesses are also increasing because of globalization. People travel
to take this seriously.”
around the world far more than they used to and can take home
diseases as unwanted souvenirs. Once exotic viruses such as Zika
Why is this happening?
and chikungunya “are basically a plane flight away,” says Petersen.
Climate change appears to be a major factor, with warmer temperatures enabling disease-spreading bugs to thrive in areas they
Are there vaccines for these diseases?
used to find inhospitable. The number of counties deemed highOnly yellow fever has a Food and Drug Administration–approved
risk for Lyme, which affects an estimated 300,000 Americans a
vaccine. There used to be one for Lyme too, called LYMErix, but
year (many cases are not reported), has increased by more than
it was taken off the market in 2002 after a scare about its side
320 percent since the late 1990s; northern states such as Maine
effects. Pharmaceutical companies are working on a replacement—
and Vermont used to be too cold for the deer ticks that carry
as they also seek vaccines for Zika, West Nile, and others—but
Lyme, but are now crawling with them. Warmer temperatures
they haven’t yet succeeded. Scientists are trying all sorts of other
also reduce the amount of time it takes for ticks to mature, and
methods to prevent bugs from
increase the period over the summer in
spreading disease. In one study,
which the parasites are active. The other
Catching a meat allergy
researchers targeted ticks by trickdriving factor is suburbanization. Deer
While most tick-borne diseases cause flu-like
ing their hosts—deer and mice—into
ticks mostly feed on mice and deer—that’s symptoms, one causes a truly bizarre reaction:
brushing up against materials containalso where they pick up the bacteria—so
a severe allergy to red meat. Several hundred
ing anti-tick chemicals. For mosquithe closer people are to them, the higher
Americans a year now get that condition from a
toes, the most promising technique
their chances of exposure. “Once you
single bite from a lone star tick, a species found
appears to be flooding the target area
start to carve up the forest into little
in the eastern half of the U.S. Named for the
with sterile or genetically modified
bits,” says Richard Ostfeld of the Cary
single white dot on the adult female’s back, the
males; then, when they mate, the
lone star carries a sugar molecule called alphaInstitute of Ecosystem Studies, “you get
gal. When the tick bites someone, it rewires
females don’t produce viable offan increase in Lyme risk.”
that person’s immune system to produce antispring. But whether any of these tactics will work on a large scale remains
How dangerous are these diseases? bodies that fight alpha-gal—and alpha-gal happens to be abundant in red meat. Symptoms
to be seen. For now, people just
Most are bacterial, so if the infection is
include hives, a runny nose, and a constricted
have to be careful in high-risk areas:
caught early, antibiotic treatment is usuavoid walking in long grass, where
ally effective. More serious problems arise throat. The reaction can take hours to manifest
and doesn’t happen every time an infected
ticks lie in wait to climb onto passing
when people don’t realize they’ve been
person eats meat, making it hard to diagnose.
mammals; wear bug repellent and
infected, and the bacteria have a chance
And there is no known cure. While the CDC
cover up as much skin as possible;
to spread throughout the body, includdoesn’t collect data on the condition, anecdotal
and search for—and remove—ticks
ing the nervous system. Lyme disease is
evidence suggests that, like all tick-borne disafter spending time outside. “This is
notorious in this respect. Up to 20 pereases, alpha-gal allergy is becoming increasone concern in life that’s preventable
cent of patients continue to experience
ingly common. “Five years ago, we probably
by following some simple guidelines,”
symptoms such as severe headaches, joint
had about 50 or so patients,” says Cosby Stone,
says David Weber, an epidemiologist
pain, facial palsy, heart palpitations, and
an allergy and immunology fellow at Vanderbilt
at the University of North Carolina.
neurological issues, long after the course
University. “Now we have about 200.”
“So it’s worth taking precautions.”
of antibiotics has ended, for reasons that
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The price
of liberal
Gerard Alexander
The New York Times
Paul Waldman
fragile legacy
David Harsanyi
Best columns: The U.S.
Liberals are oblivious to the cultural and political backlash they’ve provoked, said Gerard Alexander. Ever since Barack Obama was elected
president, liberals have felt “increasingly emboldened” to paint conservatives as their “intellectual and even moral inferiors.” Anyone concerned
with illegal immigration is deemed a “racist,” and anyone “hesitant
about transgender women using the ladies’ room” is called a “bigot.”
On late-night TV comedy shows, in Oscar speeches, and on college campuses, conservatives and conservative ideas are dismissed with derision
and laughter. Cultural norms related to sex and race have changed rapidly in recent years, yet liberals take for granted that anyone who doesn’t
jump on board must be “backward” and “deplorable.” That sort of
“self-righteousness is rarely attractive, and even more rarely rewarded.”
In fact, it’s driving millions of people in flyover country who “might
otherwise be Democrats” toward the opposition. Liberals need not abandon their agenda, but they should not demand acquiescence to rapid
social change without “doing the work of persuading people.” If liberals
continue to write off “nearly half the country as irredeemable,” they “are
going to get President Trump re-elected.”
John Kelly forgets where he came from, said Paul Waldman. The White
House chief of staff last week defended the Trump administration’s
cruel policy of taking children away from parents who arrive at the U.S.
southern border by saying it was necessary to stop the influx of uneducated people who would not “easily assimilate” into the U.S. This canard “has been used against every wave of immigrants” in our history,
including the Italians, the Chinese, the Irish, and the Jews. Kelly’s maternal grandfather, an Italian immigrant, never spoke a word of English
and peddled fruit from a cart in Boston; the Irish immigrants on his father’s side, meanwhile, were viewed at the time as “uneducated brutes”
prone to drunkenness, crime, and violence. In reality, every wave of immigrants has followed the same pattern of steady assimilation through
three generations; research shows this is happening with Hispanics too.
And the new arrivals are doing work our society still needs—picking
our crops, washing dishes in restaurants, working in construction, and
paying billions in taxes each year. Kelly may come off as more dignified
than his boss, but his ideas about immigration “are rooted in the same
misconceptions and even bigotry.”
President Obama’s policy legacy has proven remarkably easy for Republicans to demolish, said David Harsanyi. President Trump had
little trouble pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal because it “hinged on
presidential fiat rather than national consensus.” Knowing that he could
never get an actual treaty through a divided Senate, Obama implemented a nonbinding commitment that his successor could easily reverse. He used the same strategy for the Paris climate agreement, which
Congress never approved. When his immigration proposals bogged
down in Congress, Obama again circumvented the Constitution, and
created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as “a temporary stopgap measure.” By that he meant “until Democrats can make
it permanent through the courts or electoral victories.” Time and again,
Obama justified unilateral executive actions by saying that Congress had
failed to “do its job.” But Congress did do its job “by checking the president’s ambitions”—which is why Americans elected Republican majorities. The fact that Obama’s legacy is unraveling so quickly “tells us that
American governance still works.” If Trump relies on unilateral power
grabs, his agenda will be dismantled, too. “That’s as it should be.”
“The all-consuming obsession with joylessly monitoring every conceivable
human activity, quantifying and assigning variables to tasks as various as
walking and making small purchases, and attempting to draw profitable conclusions from this vast
accumulation, is one of the most distinct characteristics of modern life. It’s also, amusingly enough,
a complete waste of time. There is so much information sitting around in servers that nobody
knows what to do with it. The answer is, or should be: nothing. Information is not the same thing
as knowledge.”
Matthew Walther in
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
It must be true...
I read it in the tabloids
QA tanker truck carrying 12
tons of liquid chocolate overturned and spilled its sweet
load across a Polish highway
last week, snarling traffic and
creating headaches for cleanup crews. The milk chocolate
coated six lanes and soon
began to harden, slowing efforts to scrape the congealed
candy off the blacktop. “The
cooling chocolate is worse
than snow,” said firefighter
Bogdan Kowalski. Amused
cleanup crews eventually
melted the chocolate with
lots of hot water. “It’s been a
long time since I’ve seen so
many smiles on the faces of
emergency rescue folks,” said
a police spokeswoman.
Q Three well-meaning Texans
suffered painful
bites after the two
feisty kittens they
rescued turned
out to be wild
bobcats. A
San Antonio
said she
found the cats in an
alley and, not seeing their
mother around, brought the
animals home. She and two
friends fed the felines milk
from plastic bottles, but got
bitten. The would-be rescuers
then realized that the unusually large kittens didn’t “look
like your standard house
cat—maybe we should call
somebody,” said animal welfare worker Lisa Norwood.
The bobcats were turned
over to a wildlife rescue
Q A Miami neighborhood is
being terrorized by a rooster
that attacks dogs, cats, and
even people. The bird, named
Payo, was rescued from a
Santería blood ceremony,
and now fiercely defends
his new home, charging
any creature that passes by;
frightened neighbors call him
El Terrorista. “Alfred Hitchcock
could make a scary movie
about him,” one neighbor
said. Payo’s owner, Harry
Zamora, says the rooster is
just protecting his turf. “He’s
really a nice guy.”
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Best columns: Europe
Can a leader
stamp out
Petra Stuiber
Der Standard
The season
of looking
Jan Moir
The Daily Mail
It’s tough for a party with a neo-Nazi past to
change its image, said Petra Stuiber. HeinzChristian Strache has been trying to do just that
for his Freedom Party, the junior member of Austria’s right-wing ruling coalition. The inclusion
of the openly xenophobic party in government
has caused diplomatic rifts. Israel, for example,
refuses to meet with any Freedom Party members.
And no wonder: Founded by ex-Nazis, the party
from 1986 to 2000 was led by Jörg Haider, who
defended SS veterans as “decent people” and
called concentration camps “punishment camps.”
Strache, though, seems to genuinely reject anti-
Semitism. Good for him. Unfortunately, he heads
a party, not a cult, and he can’t lead its members
where they don’t want to go. Of course, not all
Freedom Party supporters are brownshirts. But
“‘individual cases’ of glorifying and/or excusing
Nazism” keep popping up in this party, and only
in this party. What else but a strong undercurrent of anti-Semitism can explain why Freedom
Party–affiliated fraternities have been found using
songbooks with lyrics about gassing Jews, or that
Nazi paraphernalia has been discovered in the
workplaces of party officials? Strache may be no
bigot. But his party certainly attracts them.
The British are utterly “hopeless at dressing well in
hot weather,” said Jan Moir. Give us “a rainstorm
on a windswept hillside” and we know exactly the
costume required. Our overcoats, our waterproof
wellies, our scarves and woolly hats—these are the
British uniform, and we mix and match the pieces
with dash. Come the first heat wave, though, and
“we wilt like parched tulips.” It’s not our fault.
We have little experience with weather that is
even pleasant, much less oppressive. Here is what
passes for summer: From June through August,
the average high in London tops out at just 70 de-
grees, while the average low plunges to 51. Men
tend to cope with the heat by either “dressing like
toddlers” in shorts and button shirts or by wearing sporting getup intended for the cricket field or
soccer pitch. “In public. They think it looks nice.”
They inflict upon the rest of us “their unspeakable feet,” exposing their toes in sandals. Covering
them with socks but keeping the sandals, as many
do, is, of course, even worse. Women, meanwhile,
make do with frocks of linen, which shrink and
wrinkle and make them look sweaty and rumpled.
I, for one, can’t wait for fall.
makes good on its threat to sanction
Europe is determined to save the Iran nuEuropean firms that keep doing busiclear deal, said Diogo Queiroz de Andrade
ness with Tehran, French firms could
in Público (Portugal). It’s the only way to
lose big. Oil giant Total has a $1.5 bilprevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle
lion contract to exploit Iran’s South
East—or another war. U.S. President DonPars, the largest natural gas field in the
ald Trump appalled his European allies
world. Airbus has contracts with Iran
last week when he decided to pull out of
Air worth $27 billion. Germany’s Siethe 2015 pact, which lifted sanctions on
mens and Italy’s state rail firm FS have
Tehran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear
also inked big deals with Tehran. These
program, and his administration infuriated
companies are now trapped “between
them with threats to sanction European
the hammer and the anvil”: either they
firms that continue doing business with
keep trading with Iran and get hit with
Iran. By trampling the fruits of painstaking
U.S. sanctions, or they “stop and lose
diplomacy, Trump has shown Europeans
all of their investments.”
that the U.S. can no longer be trusted
from one presidential election to the next.
European Union officials have been
Everything is now “short-term, and a sigmeeting with the Iranians this week and
nature on an international treaty is worth
tossing around options for protecting
the same as a tweet.” It is “impossible to
businesses, said Maurizio Ricci in La
overstate what Trump has dismantled,”
Repubblica (Italy). But none of them
said Klaus Brinkbäumer in Der Spiegel
are good. The easiest route is to beg
(Germany). By pulling out of the Iran
the U.S. for exceptions to secondary
deal—and the Paris climate accord—he
sanctions, as we did when President Bill
has torpedoed 70 years’ worth of transA German magazine reacts to Trump’s Iran pullout.
Clinton embargoed Cuba. Trump won’t
Atlantic trust and cooperation. The loss is
go for that. Some officials have proposed reimbursing companies
disorienting for a Europe that has long relied on the “protective
power” of America, and it is forcing a reckoning. Until Trump is for the U.S. fines they incur. But the sums could soon escalate
out of reach—French bank BNP Paribas had to pay $9 billion in
out of office, Europe must lead a “resistance against America.”
2014 to settle U.S. sanction violations. The most radical idea is
Such lofty language is all well and good, said Alexandra Saviana to have the European Central Bank create a new arm to handle
all Iranian trade, in euros. That “would almost be a declaration
in Marianne (France), but resist how exactly? French Finance
of war” against the dollar, which, as the only truly global curMinister Bruno Le Maire says Europe won’t be “a vassal that
rency, is guaranteed to prevail. “Isolating America politically is
obeys and jumps to attention.” It will conduct its own foreign
difficult. Isolating it economically, impossible.”
policy, he vowed, and uphold the Iran deal. Yet if the U.S.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Screenshot: Der Spiegel
Europe: Can it defy Trump on Iran?
Best columns: International
Iraq: An anti-American cleric’s electoral triumph
and waving Iraqi flags.” Sadr is
Iraqis are desperate for change, said
still “vehemently anti-American,”
Asharq Al-Awsat (U.K.). That is the
though, said Ibrahim Al-Marashi
clear takeaway of last week’s parliain Qatar’s And with
mentary election, the first since ISIS
Amiri, who fought on Iran’s side in
was driven out of its Iraqi strongholds
the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, set
last year. The vote’s big winner was the
to receive the second most seats in
Sairoon alliance led by firebrand Shiite
parliament, U.S. influence in Iraq
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, placing first in
will shrivel.
six of Iraq’s 18 provinces, including the
largest, Baghdad. Second place went to
Apathy was the real winner, said
the Fatah coalition of Hadi al-Amiri,
Qassem Hussein Saleh in Al-Mada
a militant with strong ties to Iran.
(Iraq). Turnout was 44 percent overThe Nasr party of U.S.-backed Prime
all; in Baghdad, where Sadr won
Minister Haider al-Abadi, which had
big, it was a mere 33 percent. That’s
been forecast to win it all, was limping
Sadr: From Iranian stooge to Iraqi nationalist
far lower than in previous elections,
along in third place. Sadr didn’t personally run for office, so he can’t be prime minister, but he will be even though those votes were held while the country was suffering near-constant suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. Iraqis
“the key power broker.” His unlikely coalition—which included
Iraq’s Communist Party and Sunni businessmen—pitched itself as are tired of watching their lawmakers grow rich while failing to
an anti-corruption force, and its victory is “a slap in the face” for provide basic services, and are disgusted that fraud and ballot
stuffing in past votes went unpunished. Like abused dogs that no
the country’s ruling establishment.
longer even try to escape their tormentors, we have “succumbed
to despair.”
Yes, Sadr is back, but he’s different now, said Omar Sharrif in
Gulf News (United Arab Emirates). He was seen as a puppet
Yet Iraq can’t afford to give up, said Ghassan Charbel in Asharq
of Iran following the fall of Saddam Hussein, when the cleric’s
Al-Awsat. With U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal
Mahdi Army militia battled against U.S. occupying forces and
from the Iran nuclear deal, “an Iranian-American confrontation
committed atrocities against Iraqi Sunnis. But Sadr has since
is looming.” And without a strong government to work for its
distanced himself from Tehran and now portrays himself as a
nationalist, a figure of hope for those who want Iraq to “emerge citizens—Sunnis and Shiites—“Iraq may become one of its arenas.” Let’s hope Sadr can unify the nation and remove it “from
from a cycle of sectarian strife.” His supporters shouted “Iran
out!” as they celebrated his victory in Baghdad, “singing, chant- the grip of nearby and distant countries.” Time is gold, and Iraq
ing, dancing, and setting off fireworks, while carrying his picture must act now if it wants to “become a player, not a playground.”
Where gangs
choose who
will rule
Francisco Garfias
into kitsch
Anton Orekh
Is this an election campaign or a war zone? asked
Francisco Garfias. With less than two months to
go before Mexicans vote for president and congress, the “blood is spilling unceasingly.” Abel
Montúfar Mendoza, a mayor who was running
for a legislative seat in violent Guerrero state, was
found shot dead in his car last week, bringing
the total number of candidates or sitting politicians killed since the campaign began to at least
90. And that figure doesn’t include the soldiers,
police, and bodyguards who have died defending
candidates or investigating their murders. Even
human rights activists have failed to denounce the
relentless assault on law enforcement, because for
them the cops are also “bad guys.” At this rate,
voters won’t be given a chance to decide whom
they want to represent them. The choice “will be
imposed upon them by organized crime,” through
the physical annihilation of candidates who oppose the cartels and gangs. It’s not about party
loyalty—candidates from every faction have been
targeted. “Nobody is safe.” The authorities at
every level look “impotent, even helpless,” against
this evil. Our leaders bristle at the suggestion that
Mexico “is a failed state.” But when gangs, not
voters, rule, what else can we call it?
What are we really celebrating on Victory Day?
asked Anton Orekh. Ever since 2005, when a
newspaper campaign began popularizing the orange and black ribbon of St. George as a way to
commemorate Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany,
the day has been a festival of tacky displays.
When May 9 comes around, armchair warriors
dress their children in camouflage and hang
portraits of Stalin, while merchants capitalize by
“selling underwear printed with war medals and
offering Victory Day discounts at strip clubs.”
Cars are plastered with bumper stickers sporting “stupid slogans like ‘We can do it again.’”
What faux courage. World War II was won 73
years ago by the soldiers of the Red Army, few of
whom are still alive, yet today’s revelers are “celebrating as if they’d stormed the Reichstag themselves.” I did wear the St. George ribbon the first
few years it was in vogue, but I soon stopped, disgusted by the excess of jingoism. And then came
the 2014 invasion of Crimea, when the ribbon
became “a symbol of war against Ukrainians, the
very brothers who helped us” defeat the Nazis.
Is that what patriotism is now? This country has
“an amazing ability to take the noblest things and
make them vulgar.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Talking points
John McCain: A maverick senator’s final act
That’s evident from the vile attacks
John McCain “is not just plotting the
being lodged against McCain, said
details of his own funeral, but living
Matt Lewis in The
it,” said Timothy Egan in The New
White House is refusing to apologize
York Times. Stricken with an aggressive
after a Trump aide callously dismissed
form of brain cancer, Arizona’s senior
McCain’s opposition to Haspel as CIA
senator is using his final days to give
director, saying what the senator thinks
the country a “public tutorial” in dig“doesn’t matter” because he’s “dying
nity and defiance from his ranch near
anyway.” Trump’s fans on Twitter have
Sedona, Ariz. McCain has been receivbeen saying much worse. “How did
ing a steady stream of visitors from
we get like this?” The contrast between
both sides of the political aisle who
Trump and McCain “is particularly
report that the 81-year-old remains,
stark because, for the moment, Trump’s
as ever, “full of fight and vigor.” Too
vision of America has won,” said Anne
frail to travel to Washington, D.C.,
A kind of Republican who’s no longer in fashion
Applebaum in The Washington Post.
he’s nevertheless making his presence
felt in the debates roiling the Capitol. He has urged his colleagues During the 2008 campaign, McCain took the microphone from
a woman attacking Obama as a foreign-born “Arab” whose loyto vote against President Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, Gina
alty to the U.S. was suspect. “No ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a
Haspel, for her participation in Bush-era torture programs. An
decent family man and citizen.” When Trump surged in the 2016
upcoming memoir calls on the country to reject the vicious tribal
GOP primaries, McCain criticized his race-baiting attacks on Hispolitics of this era and makes clear his disdain for President
panics; the draft-dodging Trump shot back that McCain was “not
Trump. The president, he writes, is a would-be autocrat who
a war hero” because he’d been captured. It’s no wonder Trump
craves flattery, has only “a reality-show facsimile of toughness,”
and doesn’t understand American ideals. But when all is said and supporters can’t stop themselves from attacking McCain. “They
know that McCain embodies not just a form of patriotism, but a
done, McCain’s final wish has nothing to do with politics or setkind of courage and honor, that Trump will simply never have.”
tling scores. “I’d like to go back to our valley and see the creek
run after the rain,” McCain writes, “and hear the cottonwoods
Liberals have treated McCain unfairly, too, said Jim Geraghty in
whisper in the wind.” They loved him when he was infuriating
McCain’s passing, “when it comes, will leave all of us the poorer,” conservatives by championing campaign finance reform and voting
against the Bush tax cuts, but turned against him with a vengeance
said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. “Like all longtime politiwhen he ran against Obama as a national security conservative.
cians’, his record contains much to dislike.” But McCain has
always served as his own “fiercest moral critic.” He readily admit- Then, when McCain voted against Obamacare repeal last year,
ted to his own cowardice in refusing to denounce the Confederate he was embraced all over again. “Maybe no national figure in the
modern era flipped so quickly from the hero to the villain column
flag while campaigning in South Carolina during the 2000 presiin his media coverage and back.”
dential campaign. In his latest book, he also expresses regret for
choosing the ill-prepared Sarah Palin as his 2008 running mate.
“Of how many career politicians can that be said?” McCain’s leg- At his ranch in Arizona, McCain is spending his days on his deck
acy “can be distilled to a single choice,” said David Von Drehle in with his wife, Cindy, and his family, and relishing the final battles
The Washington Post. As a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he refused of his political career. “If you don’t think the Arizona senator is
happy that he’s still punching and people are punching back,”
the opportunity to go free ahead of his fellow captives when his
said Philip Boas in The Arizona Republic, “you don’t know John
captors learned he was the son and grandson of American admiMcCain.” McCain may believe in fighting clean, but he loves a
rals. McCain was tortured mercilessly for putting his countrymen
ahead of himself. “If this eulogy is premature, the reason for deliv- good fight most of all. “Somewhere in the red rock country of Arizona, our senior senator is smiling.”
ering it now is this moment cries out for it.”
The New York Times
QMore than half of the 3,517 Facebook
ads bought by the Russia-based Internet
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Research Agency during the 2016 presidential election made references to race.
Hoping to inflame racial tensions, some
Russian ads mimicked
Black Lives Matter activists and others urged
people to support propolice groups.
USA Today
QNearly 60 percent
of the nation’s top
colleges are featuring women as their
spring commencement
Sheryl Sandberg
to speak at MIT
speakers—up from just 25 percent of the
speakers at those schools over the previous 19 years. Speakers bureau officials
credit a wave of female empowerment
triggered by the #MeToo movement.
Associated Press
QAmericans who say they have no
religion now outnumber evangelical white
Protestants. The number of Americans
with no religion has nearly doubled since
2003—rising to 21 percent—while the
number of white evangelicals has fallen
from 21 percent to 13 percent.
Getty, Newscom
QThe Mormon Church is ending its
105-year-old partnership with the Boy
Scouts of America to form its own youth
programs. In the past five years, the Boy
Scouts began admitting gay and transgender scouts, ended a ban on openly gay
adult leaders, and announced that the name
‘boy’ will be dropped next year as the organization starts to admit girls. One of every
five Boy Scouts in the U.S. belongs to the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Talking points
Midterms: Is the ‘blue wave’ receding?
prognosticators think they’ll
Maybe Republicans aren’t
need at least the 7.5 percent
“heading for disaster in the
advantage they had in the
midterms” after all, said John
2006 election, when they
Cassidy in
took control of the House.
President Trump appeared
Turnout will be critical.
to be “electoral poison” for
Polls show Democrats are
his party, which is why more
far more enthusiastic than
than 40 House Republicans
Republicans about voting
decided against seeking rein the midterms, and if that
election. Democrats looked
proves to be true in primapoised to flip the 24 seats
Democrats hoping to reclaim the House
ries and special elections over
needed to reclaim the House;
the next few months, it would be “the surest real23 Republicans are defending seats in districts
won by Hillary Clinton. But in recent Republican time sign of high water coming in.”
primaries in West Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio,
To win, Democrats will have to avoid getting
pro-Trump candidates won, indicating he’s still
bogged down in a pointless identity crisis, said
popular in red states, and the strong turnout
Frank Bruni in The New York Times. The endless
showed that “the GOP intends to put up a
“back-and-forth” about whether the party should
fight.” To help hold the House, casino mogul
move left and follow the lead of Bernie Sanders or
Sheldon Adelson just pledged $30 million to a
favor centrist candidates with broader appeal is
conservative Super PAC. “The writing is simply
“foolish.” Conor Lamb won a special House elecnot on the wall for a Democratic blowout,” said
Jared Whitley in With the economy tion in Pennsylvania two months ago by focusing
“staggeringly good” and Democrats busy fighting on local issues, vowing to protect Social Security
each other over ideological purity, “the blue tidal and Medicare, and eschewing liberal orthodoxy
on culture-war issues like gun rights. House canwave will, at best, be a blue trickle.”
didates’ position on the political spectrum should
vary “from place to place,” depending on the
Democrats still have reason for cautious optimism, said Domenico Montanaro in In district’s political makeup. “No objective matters more than controlling Trump by controlling
the generic congressional ballot polls, Democrats
the House,” so the Democrats’ ideal candidate in
hold about a 6-point advantage. But that’s down
every district will be the one who can win.
from a 10-point lead in February, and many
Cohen: Return of the Swamp Creature
Donald Trump won the presidency promising
to “drain the swamp” in Washington, said USA
Today in an editorial. Instead, he is creating
“whole new wetlands.” We all learned last week
that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney,
made millions of dollars after the election by
promising blue-chip companies access to and
insights about the president. Cohen’s retainers—
paid into Essential Consultants, the same shell
company he used to pay off porn star Stormy
Daniels—included $1.2 million from drugmaker
Novartis, $600,000 from AT&T, and $500,000
from Columbus Nova, an investment firm linked
to a Russian oligarch. Influence peddling this blatant is “an ethical monstrosity,” said Eric Levitz
in, yet also perfectly legal. And the
companies who paid Cohen seem to have gotten little in return. Novartis said it realized he’d
be unable to help them only a month into their
contract; AT&T described his hiring as a “big mistake.” But if any of this money made its way to
Trump, or was used to pay off mistresses, it would
be “the slimiest pay-to-play scandal in the history
of the American presidency.”
These firms paid Cohen for a reason, said Chris
Cillizza in “No one thought Trump
would win” in 2016, and his motley campaign
team included few well-connected Beltway denizens. So when Trump triumphed, big corporations fell into a “panic” about their lack of access.
What’s harder to explain, however, said Alexis
Madrigal in, is why Cohen
directed major companies like AT&T and Novartis to write such big checks to a shell corporation
based in Delaware. Americans know that “powerful interests pay for access to politicians, but they
likely do not expect the president’s personal lawyer
to commingle the money of corporations, adultfilm actresses, and oligarchs.” Is there something
about this shakedown that we don’t yet know—
and that federal prosecutors will discover?
Cohen may be a “sleazy influence peddler,” said
Jonathan Turley in USA Today, but he’s nothing
new in Washington. President Clinton’s hangerson had their own acronym—“FOB, or Friends of
Bill”—and the Clinton Foundation was essentially
a vehicle to curry favor with Bill and Hillary.
Trump should take full blame for failing to drain
the swamp, but let’s not pretend Democrats will
ever clean up the capital, either. “Trying to bar the
selling of access in Washington is like trying to ban
corn sales in Iowa.”
Wit &
“Women, like men, should
try to do the impossible.”
Amelia Earhart, quoted in
“There is nothing quite
so tragic as a young cynic,
because it means the
person has gone from
knowing nothing to
believing nothing.”
Maya Angelou, quoted in
“The whole of anything
is never told.”
Henry James, quoted in
The New York Times
“Hatred is the anger
of the weak.”
Novelist Alphonse Daudet,
quoted in the Montreal Gazette
“Continue to share your
heart with people,
even if it’s been broken.” Amy Poehler, quoted in
“Every child starts out
as a scientist, as an
explorer, as someone who
is infinitely curious.”
Novelist Richard Powers,
quoted in the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The difference between
successful people and very
successful people is that
very successful people say
‘no’ to almost everything.”
Warren Buffett, quoted in
Poll watch
Q41% of Americans approve of President Trump’s
handling of relations with
Israel, including 80% of
Republicans. 43% disapprove, including 72%
of Democrats.
CBS News
Q 66% of Britons say they
are not interested in the
upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and
Meghan Markle. Just 9%
are “very interested” in the
wedding, and 27% plan to
watch or listen to the ceremony. 57% want the royals
to pay for the wedding and
the cost of security.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Google: An uncannily human-sounding AI
do. Still, this technology appears to be able
The robots are coming, and it turns out
to ace the famous test of machine intelligence
they “won’t sound like an overlord, but
developed by British computer scientist Alan
a, uhh, Millennial,” said Alexis Madrigal
Turing in 1950—to pass the test, a machine
in Google last week demust behave in a way indistinguishable from
buted a “jaw-droppingly” lifelike artificiala human. To date, our machines have been,
intelligence tool at its annual developer conwell, machine-like enough to spare us from
ference: an automated voice assistant capable
having to answer thorny questions about
of making salon appointments, booking
where advanced AI fits into our societal codes.
restaurant reservations, and conducting other
But we could soon face a world where we
tasks over the phone. The bot, known as
don’t know “who’s the human and who’s the
Duplex, “sounds like a human,” complete
machine.” It’s not hard to imagine “how this
with pauses, “cheery colloquialisms,” and
When a robot is on the other line
kind of technology could be used for all kinds
filler sounds like “um” and “hmm” for
of questionable or dangerous tasks,” said Kevin Roose in NY
added realism. In a pre-recorded onstage demonstration, Duplex
spoke with a hair salon receptionist and chatted with a restaurant A hacker could mimic a person’s voice and fool a lisemployee to book a table; at no point did the humans on the line tener into handing over valuable information, or use AI to spread
misinformation to thousands of people as part of an automated
appear to realize they were talking to a robot, causing the audiattack. The fact that the backlash to Duplex “caught Google by
ence of coders to cheer. In the outside world, critics pounced,
accusing Google of developing “deceitful and unethical” technol- surprise,” is, “to me, is the most disturbing piece” of news.
ogy, said Alex Hern in “Horrifying,” tweeted
Google is “not the only company developing these services,”
social media theorist Zeynep Tufekci, who added that “Silicon
said James Vincent in It bears asking whether we
Valley is ethically lost.” In response to the outcry, Google said
should allow tech companies to manage AI’s thorny ethical questhat it will build in features that “explicitly let people know they
tions on their own, or if we need new laws to protect the pubare interacting with a machine,” but didn’t provide specifics.
lic. This technology is coming soon, and it will be widespread.
“The robot future, it’s worth pointing out, isn’t exactly here yet,” Google has pledged to “do the right thing,” but will others? “We
need to have a conversation about all this, before the robots start
said Molly Roberts in Google’s AI can
doing the talking for us.”
chat only in certain situations, so it’s quite limited in what it can
laser vision
just moved a
step closer to
reality, said
Neil Savage in
IEEE Spectrum.
at the University of St. Andrews in
Scotland have developed an ultrathin, laser-emitting membrane, made
from an organic semiconducting
polymer, that can be attached to
contact lenses. The team tested the
membranes and contacts on cow
eyeballs, but don’t worry: They aren’t
planning to build an army of bovines
“with laser-beam eyes.” Instead, the
lasers would produce a unique digital bar code when illuminated with
another laser, allowing it to serve
as a kind of identification for the
contact lens wearer, possibly adding
a second layer of authentication to
an iris scan. The same could be done
for fingerprint scans; the team has
attached a membrane to a person’s
thumbnail. And several such lasers
could be affixed to a banknote, giving it a unique “spectral” signature
to guard against counterfeiting.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Bytes: What’s new in tech
All out of Klout
Klout, the social media firm that ranks people’s
influence online, is shutting down on May 25,
said Sean Gallagher in The
service, which assigns a 0-to-100 score based
on how much attention a person’s Twitter and
Facebook posts receive, had a brief heyday
around 2012, when it won an investment from
Microsoft and an arrangement to show Klout
scores in Bing search results. But the service
shed users as people questioned its “rampant
harvesting of personal data and the questionable nature of Klout’s algorithm.” Lithium, the
social media metrics firm that bought Klout in
2014 for about $100 million, said the May 25
implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which gives
consumers more control over their data, would
have required a costly overhaul of the service.
Secret commands for Siri and Alexa
Someone “might be secretly talking” to your
Amazon Echo smart speaker, said Craig Smith
in The New York Times. Researchers in the
U.S. and China have demonstrated that it’s
possible to send instructions “undetectable
to the human ear” to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s
Alexa, and Google’s Assistant by hiding commands in white noise or within recordings of
music or spoken text. “While a human listener
hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an
instruction to add something to your shopping
list.” In the wrong hands, the technology could
“be used to unlock doors, wire money, or buy
stuff online.” Experts say there is “no evidence
that these techniques have left the lab,” but it
may only be a matter of time “before someone
starts exploiting them.”
California’s solar mandate
California could soon become “the first state to
require solar panels on nearly all new homes,”
said Erin Ailworth in The Wall Street Journal.
Its state energy commission approved a mandate last week that all residential buildings up
to three stories high, including single-family
homes, be built with solar installations from
2020. The commission estimates that the requirement will add $9,500 to the average cost
of a home in the state, which is the No. 1 solar
market in the country. Solar makes up less than
2 percent of U.S. electricity output, but California is “a bellwether” on energy-efficiency
issues. The proposal needs final approval from
California’s Building Standards Commission,
but that panel has traditionally adopted the
energy commission’s recommendations.
Getty, Everett Collection
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Health & Science
Carbon dioxide levels hit historic high
heat and drives climate change—into the
atmosphere. At the current rate of increase,
“we’ll hit 450 ppm in a mere 16 years, and
500 ppm 20 years after that,” Ralph Keeling,
head of the CO2 program at California’s
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, tells “That’s well within dangerous
territory for the climate system.” The last
time CO2 levels were this high was in the
mid-Pliocene epoch, more than 3 million
years ago—long before Homo sapiens
evolved. During the mid-Pliocene, the
atmosphere began to warm, ice sheets to
melt, and sea levels to rise to more than
60 feet higher than they are today. Climate
2 billion years will get hot enough to boil
away the oceans.
Make Pluto a planet again!
Going out in a blaze of glory in 5 billion years
The sun’s final light show
Scientists have long known how our sun
will die: Some 5 billion years from now, it
will burn its last supply of hydrogen, swell
into a red giant, and swallow Mercury and
Venus before collapsing. What will happen after that collapse, however, has not
been so clear. Many thought the sun would
shrink down to a dim compacted core—
a white dwarf—but a new study argues it
will leave a far brighter legacy. After forming a red giant, researchers say, the sun will
shed half its mass as its outer layers are
blasted off into space. The remaining core
will then heat up far quicker than previous
studies have suggested, radiating ultraviolet
light and X-rays that will hit the ejected
gas and dust, turning them into a ring of
brightly glowing plasma that will shine
for some 10,000 years. “If you lived in the
Andromeda galaxy, 2 million light-years
away,” study co-author Albert Zijlstra tells, “you’d still be able to
see it.” You won’t be able to watch the
light show from Earth: As the sun ages,
it will grow ever brighter, and in the next
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
A scientific campaign has been launched
to restore Pluto to planethood. Once the
solar system’s ninth planet, tiny Pluto was
demoted to “dwarf planet” status in 2006
after the International Astronomical Union
redefined planets as round celestial bodies
that circle the sun and have “cleared their
neighborhoods”—that is, become the gravitationally dominant bodies in their orbit.
Because Pluto is surrounded by icy debris,
it lost its full planetary status. Now two
scientists involved in NASA’s New Horizons
mission to explore Pluto and the Kuiper
Belt, Alan Stern and David Grinspoon, are
pushing for Pluto to be let back into the
club. The pair argues in a Washington Post
op-ed that the IAU’s definition is deeply
flawed. Earth could not have been classified
as a planet for its first 500 million years,
they note, because back then it, too, orbited
among a field of debris. Stern and Grinspoon
want the IAU to adopt a simpler definition
of a planet: a round object in space that is
smaller than a star. If they succeed, Pluto
could once again be called a planet.
Settling the egg debate
You can safely eat a dozen eggs a
week—or possibly more—
without increasing your
risk of heart disease,
according to new
research. Like butter
and red meat, eggs
are high in dietary
cholesterol, and
for decades many
physicians advised
patients to cut back
on such foods to keep
their heart healthy.
To test the health
Our fossil fuel habit is speeding climate change.
scientist Katharine Hayhoe said the new
CO2 findings show that “we are continuing
full speed ahead with an unprecedented
experiment with our planet.’’
effect of eggs, researchers at the University
of Sydney put 128 people with prediabetes
or type 2 diabetes—a major risk factor for
cardiovascular disease—on two different
diets for a year. One group ate 12 eggs a
week and the other ate two eggs or fewer a
week. At the end of the study, the researchers found no adverse changes in cardiovascular risk factors in either group, including
in blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol
and blood-sugar levels,
reports. “Our research indicates people do
not need to hold back from eating eggs,”
study author Nick Fuller says, “if this is
part of a healthy diet.”
Health scare of the week
Fast food and infertility
Women trying to get pregnant should steer
clear of fast foods and eat more fresh fruit
instead. That’s the conclusion of a new
study that followed the diets of nearly
5,600 women in Australia, New Zealand,
Ireland, and the U.K. Researchers found
that participants who ate meals at fastfood restaurants at least four times a week
took nearly a month longer to conceive
than those who rarely ate fast food. And
while women who rarely or never ate fast
food had an 8 percent risk of infertility—
defined as not being able to get pregnant
after a year of trying—the risk was 16 percent among regular fast-food eaters.
Meanwhile, women who ate fruit at
least three times a day got pregnant
two weeks faster on average than
women who ate fruit less than
once a month. “It shows that
healthier foods support conception,” study leader Jessica
Grieger tells
Researchers note that a high-fat
diet has been shown to have
a toxic effect on the ovaries of
mice, and that fast food could have
a similar effect on human-egg cells.
AP, NASA, Media Bakery
The level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s
atmosphere is now at its highest level
in human history and is closing in on
concentrations that climatologists say
could have catastrophic consequences
for life on the planet. CO2 levels topped
410 parts per million throughout April—the
highest concentration in 800,000 years—
according to observations from the Mauna
Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Prior to the
late 18th century, levels of carbon dioxide averaged about 280 ppm. But since
the start of the Industrial Revolution, the
burning of fossil fuels has pumped ever
more CO2—a greenhouse gas that traps
Pick of the week’s cartoons
For more political cartoons, visit:
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Review of reviews: Books
network of events governed by the laws of
physics, onto which we subjectively project
sequences that we perceive as past, present,
and future. “Ultimately, I’m not sure I buy
Rovelli’s ideas”; to accept everything he
says, we would have to embrace loop quantum theory, an alternative to string theory
that is Rovelli’s “ambitious” bid to wed
quantum mechanics and relativity theory.
Lucid as its explanations are, “this book
alone would not give the lay reader enough
information to render a judgment.”
Book of the week
The Order of Time
by Carlo Rovelli (Riverhead, $20)
Carlo Rovelli’s new book on the nature of
time deserves to become a contemporary
classic, said Philip Ball in New Scientist.
As he demonstrated in Seven Brief Lessons
on Physics, the Italian theoretical physicist
is a remarkably effective writer—“poetic
without being twee, learned without ostentation, authoritative yet conversational.”
Here, in fewer than 250 pages, he elegantly
explains how physicists’ understanding of
time has changed, more than once, since
Isaac Newton’s day. Experts won’t come
across any ideas they haven’t encountered
before. And yet nothing in The Order
of Time reads like mere review, because
Rovelli illuminates each concept using novel
metaphors and perspectives. “Better still, he
reaches into the heart of the matter in ways
that make you think afresh.”
To Rovelli and his peers, time is an illusion,
said Andrew Jaffe in Nature. Though we
intuit, as Newton did, that time passes at a
Novel of the week
At a cosmic level, does time even exist?
single rate throughout the cosmos, evidence
has proven its pace varies depending on
the observer’s speed and location, just as
Einstein theorized. Rovelli argues that this
suggests that time exists only in perception. “So what does he think is really going
on?” He proposes that reality is a complex
1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a
World on the Brink
by Taylor Downing (Da Capo, $28)
by Michael Ondaatje
(Knopf, $27)
Michael Ondaatje’s new novel ranks
as “his best since The English Patient,”
said Dwight Garner in The New York
Times. But to me, that 1992 Booker Prize
winner was “moody, murky, and lightly
pretentious,” and here again, Ondaatje
“writes well about all sorts of things”
but overindulges in misdirection, secrets, and lyricism. That said, the story
is strong enough to hold us: In 1945
London, a boy of 14 and his sister are
left in the care of two men who might
be criminals, and after the boy learns
his mother was working for British intelligence, it will take him years to uncover
the details of the mission she undertook. Warlight is leaner than The English
Patient, and its focus is far tighter, said
Anna Mundow in The Washington Post.
Yes, for the first 100 pages, “all is atmosphere and allusions,” but the mood
is mesmerizing, and after a sudden
attack, and a 12-year leap forward, we
come to realize that no detail has been
extraneous. “All are relevant; everything fits,” and the ultimate revelation
“strikes with quiet but lethal force.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The world has more
than once been lucky
to escape an all-out
nuclear war, said
The Economist. On
Nov. 9, 1983—two
decades after the resolution of the Cuban
missile crisis—the U.S.
and the Soviet Union
once again blundered
to the brink of mutual
destruction when the Soviets misinterpreted
a NATO military exercise as a preparation
for imminent nuclear attack. As Taylor
Downing’s “snappily told” account of the
1983 incident lays bare, the second close
call was especially dangerous because the
U.S. had no idea that the Soviets had been
frightened into readying war planes for
takeoff. In 1962, by contrast, “at least both
sides knew the world was on the brink of
Downing’s closely reported book “reads
like a thriller,” said Terry Hartle in Soviet leaders were
Many of the strange paths Rovelli leads
us down aren’t new, said Tim Radford
in “Aristotle and
St. Augustine both wrestled with the
protean question of time,” and Rovelli is
conversant enough with the work of artists
and philosophers that he’s able to gracefully weave their voices into the conversation, a conversation that inevitably leads
to the proposition that reality is not what
it seems. The book is, in the end, “a joy to
read.” Rovelli’s reasoning isn’t always easy
to follow, “and when you close the book
you still won’t know whether time really
exists or not.” That’s OK: “You will have a
sharper sense of why you don’t know.”
paranoid that U.S. President Ronald
Reagan aimed to launch a pre-emptive
nuclear strike, and in truth, Reagan had
given them plenty to worry about. After
assuming office in 1981, he championed
a nuclear arms buildup while sparring
verbally with Moscow. After several scares
caused by U.S. Navy flight maneuvers,
the Soviet military shot down a Korean
passenger airliner in September 1983 and
claimed it had been mistaken for a spy
plane. But the Soviets knew the West was
still outraged when in early November
NATO launched Able Archer 83, the
most realistic war game ever seen.
Unsurprisingly, Soviet observers concluded
that doomsday had arrived.
“On the face of it, Downing’s book has a
happy ending,” said Dominic Sandbrook in
The Times (U.K.). Able Archer concluded
on Nov. 11 without triggering a Soviet
strike, and when Reagan discovered how
close the exercise had come to initiating
nuclear war, he sought stronger diplomatic
ties and pursued disarmament. “Yet there is
a chilling lesson here, too.” In 1983, stupidity and miscommunication nearly caused an
Armageddon scenario, and the world relied
on the decisions of just a handful of people,
including Reagan, to avert catastrophe.
Might we not be so lucky the next time?
Science Source
The Book List
Best books...chosen by Helen DeWitt
Novelist Helen DeWitt describes her new book, Some Trick, as a story collection preoccupied with ‘the cussedness of talent.’ Below, the author of The Last Samurai and
Lightning Rods recommends books that illuminate the workings of singular minds.
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (Norton,
$16). Lewis shows us that Bill Walsh, who
became a Hall of Fame NFL coach, had a different way of thinking about the passing game:
If the system is the star, even mediocre quarterbacks can dazzle. I had no idea football was not
excruciatingly boring.
Against the Gods by Peter L. Bernstein (Wiley,
$22). I once thought insurance was boring, too.
Bernstein, in his history of probability and forecasting, argues that the foundations of insurance
are revolutionary, defining the boundary between
modern times and the past. The mastery of risk
means that the future can be understood as
something more than a whim of the gods.
The Transfiguration of the Commonplace by
Arthur C. Danto (Harvard, $31). Here’s Danto,
the critic and philosopher, on the relationship
between art and reality: “Suppose we have two
marbles, one a portrait of the other, and the latter the original, the ‘real’ marble. But for their
different histories, and but for the fact that one
of them enters into the history of the other, there
may be no basis for telling them apart, and so no
criterion in observation and comparison for stating that one of them is real and the other not.”
How can we talk about a work of art without
asking what it is? I love this.
Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte
(Graphics Press, $32). Tufte, a data scientist,
transformed the way I see the world: A simple
railway timetable can be a source of joy or
outrage, because, as Tufte writes, “Clutter and
confusion are failures of design, not attributes of
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, $15). Marco Polo sits in a
garden with an aging Kublai Khan and describes
55 imaginary cities, each organized on fantastic
principles. Calvino’s novel conjures a radically
different America, an America where we could
choose the social experiment that suits us best.
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Indiana
Univ., $18). The underrated equal of T.S. Eliot’s
The Waste Land, Hoban’s 1980 novel presents a
postapocalyptic world where forgotten science is
fetishized and spoken of in mythic terms.
Aileen Son, Allan Amato
Also of well-earned reissues
The Changeling
Black Swans
by Joy Williams (Tin House, $20)
by Eve Babitz (Counterpoint, $17)
Joy Williams’ 1978 novel is “truly
weird,” but in a way readers just
discovering it should love, said
Ellen Akins in the Minneapolis Star
Tribune. “Plotted it’s not,” and the
main character, Pearl, is a drunk
prone to visions. But The Changeling is “laced
with exquisite lines, some bizarrely funny,” and
as Pearl returns to an island ruled by a rich
brother-in-law and mothers an infant she believes
isn’t hers, you’ll never wonder why the book has
won a revival.
“Reading Eve Babitz is like eating
cake for breakfast,” said Lauren
Sarazen in the Los Angeles Review
of Books. In this 1993 short-story
collection—“arguably her best work”—
the Los Angeles insider excelled as usual
at voyeuristic portraits of the fast crowd, but she
was also mature enough to examine why her city
and her era harbored so much debauchery. While
admitting her self-absorption, she also proves her
acuity, “cementing herself as a Los Angeles intellectual without sacrificing her boho joie de vivre.”
Rachel Carson: Silent Spring & Other
Writings on the Environment
Love That Bunch
(Library of America, $35)
A retrospective collection from
an underground-comics legend
really shouldn’t be this respectful,
said Etelka Lehoczky in
Aline Kominsky-Crumb—wife of
R. Crumb—“specializes in assaulting
readers with overly intimate personal revelations
done in a hasty, messy style,” and her often autobiographical work loses power when it’s allowed
to become repetitive. Skip the highbrow intro and
jump in: Kominsky-Crumb is “unruly from her
head to her nib,” and she’s best that way.
“Rachel Carson is important less for
how she wrote than for what she
wrote,” but she bears re-reading, said
Charles Mann in The Wall Street
Journal. Silent Spring, her 1962 exposé
on the dangers of pesticides and insecticides, so changed modern life that today it reads
“like a dispatch from a different world.” Paired
here with related essays and letters, it depicts
a landscape drenched in chemicals and sounds
warnings that have mostly proven prescient.
by Aline Kominsky-Crumb (Drawn & Quarterly, $30)
Author of the week
Chuck Palahniuk
The author of Fight Club is
ready to raise the stakes, said
Peter Rugh in In his
first novel in four years, Chuck
Palahniuk has returned to the
theme of wounded American
masculinity igniting violent
revolution, but this time he lets
the attempted
Day, a polemical work as
bloody as
Palahniuk has
written, chronicles an uprising of young men who divide
the U.S. into three separate
nations—Caucasia, Blacktopia,
and Gaysia—thus realizing the
collective dreams of various
extremists the author interviewed. “To write the book, I
hung out with separatists of
every stripe, from the ‘racial
realists’ to the Hotep Nation to
the [Louis] Farrakhan people—
being the Fight Club guy
opens a lot of doors,” he says.
“I wanted to grant a little wish
fulfillment to every group.
That’s my mission in life, to
make dreams come true.”
“Obviously, Palahniuk is playing a game with you here,”
said Jason Sheehan in NPR
.org. In Adjustment Day, as
always, he wants to push satire right to the brink of unforgivable offensiveness—“and
I gotta tell you, watching him
try it? It’s fun.” But the provocateur you read on the pages is
Palahniuk the novelist. Outside
his fiction, the 56-year-old
Washington state native has little patience for extremists, said
Josh Chesler in OCWeekly.
com. Almost 20 years ago,
his father was murdered by
a white separatist who didn’t
want any man dating his exwife. Palahniuk says he hopes
the new novel will cure readers
of any illusion that tribalism is
a solution: “The book is about
exploring the current fantasy
of separate nation states based
on identity politics. I say, ‘Let’s
try to imagine how well that
idea would work out.’”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Review of reviews: Art & Stage
Exhibit of the week
The three jewel-crusted tiaras that
belonged to Pope Pius IX are dazzling and all, but “you need not be
Martin Luther to look askance at
their opulence.”
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion
and the Catholic Imagination
The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York City, through Oct. 8
For the Roman Catholic Church,
it wasn’t a good look, said Kyle
Smith in the National Review. Last
week, the church “took the side of
its enemies” when New York City’s
archbishop helped kick off the 2018
Met Gala, a celebrity-packed bacchanal dripping in “gaudy, narcissistic, sin-loving materialism.” Cardinal
Timothy Dolan had been called in
because the months-long museum
exhibition inaugurated by the party
focuses on fashion inspired by
Catholic iconography. But if you’re
a practicing Catholic who was hoping the sight of Rihanna in a papal miter
and minidress was a passing affront, maybe
the museum show isn’t for you. Dozens of
sacred garments on loan from the Vatican’s
Sistine Chapel sacristy are being displayed
not far from racy 20th-century spoofs of
clerical garb, including a rosary-draped
leather bondage mask. Granted, elite designers can mock Catholic culture if they like.
But did Rome really have to play along? To
me, that’s “a recipe for self-destruction.”
The church is actually treated reverently
A Dior ensemble displayed amid medieval art
by the Met, said Jason Farago in The New
York Times. Most of the 55 designers exhibited, including marquee names such as Elsa
Schiaparelli and Jean Paul Gaultier, were
raised Catholic, and even their most surreal
or carnal riffs on Catholic style express deep
regard for its aesthetic of enchanted excess.
The show, curated by another Catholic,
“treats the visual splendor of the church
as a manifestation of God that inheres in
all beauty, including fashion.” If anything,
the presentation could be faulted for being
too accepting of the church’s extravagance.
Pope Francis almost certainly would,
said Ross Douthat, also in the
Times. The current pontiff favors
humble clothing and has largely
aligned himself with the post–Second
Vatican Council movement toward
demystifying the church and its rituals. Unfortunately, modernization has
failed to attract or hold worshippers,
which is why the Met exhibition
ought to be a wake-up call. However
slim Catholicism’s chances of thriving in the modern world, “there is no
plausible path that does not involve
more of what once made Catholicism
both great and weird.” Fortunately, the
Catholic imagination is wildly elastic, said
Laura Jacobs in The Wall Street Journal.
Though you’ll find most of “Heavenly
Bodies” housed in the Met’s main building, don’t miss the related displays further
uptown at the Cloisters, home to a medieval art collection. There, set alone in a
stone apse, stands “one of the most revered
designs in fashion history”—an impossibly
uncomplicated 1967 Balenciaga wedding
dress. It is inarguably Catholic-inspired, yet
it is also “the holy grail of fashion purists.”
Dance Nation
Playwrights Horizons, New York City, (212) 279-4200 ++++
Only an “insanely talented” playwright
could create something so original from
such routine building blocks, said Ben
Brantley in The New York Times. The
actresses who play the teammates are
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
boys are rarely mentioned, even though
little else is out of bounds for these young
dancers. For the moment, “these girls
are focused with full-beam intensity on
one another and the feelings of profound
attachment and loneliness that emerge
from being part of a team.”
The ‘girls’ tap into their inner beasts.
nowhere near 13—they range in age from
their 20s to their late 60s, and that turns
Dance Nation into a memory play, one
that reminds all of us “how impossible
it is to escape the way we were.” Amina
(a “perfectly cast” Dina Shihabi) has to
accept being the best dancer of the group
(“I feel like I hurt people just by existing,”
she cries at one point). Zuzu, her best
friend, delivers a monologue about her
own lack of star talent that proves heartbreaking in its pragmatism. Surprisingly,
The play’s early intensity eventually dissipates, said Zachary Stewart in Theater After creating a tense standoff
between the demand for excellence and the
need for self-esteem, Barron “gives up this
big fish for more manageable ones.” Or
rather, she stays focused on the endlessly
rich topic of the transition from girlhood to
womanhood, said Adam Feldman in Time
Out New York. Dance Nation is unsparing in its depictions of the dramas of early
adolescence: One girl is eliminated for good
after a nasty fall; another shrivels with
embarrassment when her period arrives
early. Still, this “riotous, rattling, sensational” play is anything but fearless. “It
embraces fear, hugs it tight, and channels it
into a queasy kind of triumph.”
The Metropolitian Museum of Art, Joan Marcus
If you were ever a 13-year-old girl, said
Sara Holdren in New York, Clare Barron’s
Dance Nation “will probably hit you
hard.” If you weren’t, see it anyway. “A
brave, visceral, excitingly off-kilter barbaric yawp of a play,” it purposely uses a
familiar premise to get at something painful: the pressure girls feel to be modest and
how their response to that pressure shapes
their entire lives. Yes, the central challenge
confronting the characters “feels like something out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary”: They’re a competitive youth
dance team, and their coach—“played
with hilarious seriousness by Thomas Jay
Ryan”—is readying them to perform a tribute to Gandhi they hope will catapult them
into the nationals. But Dance Nation isn’t
a standard empowerment tale. “It’s much
weirder and darker than its subject matter.”
Review of reviews: Film & Music
Deadpool 2
Directed by David Leitch
Our most sarcastic
superhero returns.
doubt himself, and after he’s
“Welcome back, Deadpool,”
coaxed into joining the X-Men
said Stephen Whitty in the
as a trainee, then botches a misNew York Daily News. When
sion, he enlists a ragtag crew
Ryan Reynolds’ snarky, motorto take on a cyborg played by
mouthed antihero first arrived
Josh Brolin, and the new posse,
in theaters two years ago in
dubbed X-Force, provides
a R-rated action comedy that
some “utterly outrageous” shemade fun of everything—
nanigans. Reynolds’ wisecracks
including other Marvel
about movie conventions will
blockbusters—“it was a game
Reynolds does his best John Cusack.
never get old to me, said Michael
changer.” Though this sequel
O’Sullivan in The Washington Post. “Watching
“sometimes struggles to measure up,” in part by
Deadpool 2 is like having Deadpool sitting next to
tipping at times from edgy to offensive, it’s “still
you with a bucket of popcorn, trashing whatever
a fast, fun romp.” Naturally, the movie can’t suris taking place on screen—and all of pop culture,
prise viewers the way the original did, said Bryan
really. Nothing is sacred here, except comedy.”
Bishop in But it asks Deadpool to
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox, Shudder/Neon
gaze of the camera,” said Olivia
Feminism and exploitation cinOvenden in, but
ema might seem an odd mix,
Directed by Coralie Fargeat said A.O. Scott in The New
that’s because Fargeat is insist(R)
ing that Jen’s flirtiness can’t
York Times. Not in Coralie
be an excuse when one of her
Fargeat’s hands. With her
lover’s hunting buddies rapes her
“blunt, bloody, and stylish”
A rape victim hunts
and the men leave her for dead
feature debut—a rape-revenge
down her abusers.
rather than risk exposure. Jen
drama starring Italian actress
survives, though, and initiates a
Matilda Lutz—the French filmhunt for her abusers that’s “as
maker “at once exposes what’s
Lutz: Lolita with a rifle
captivating as Kill Bill.” The
wrong with her chosen genre
and demonstrates her mastery of it.” Lutz plays Jen, resulting gore is almost nauseating because Fargeat
won’t let the violence be abstract, said David Sims
a millionaire’s mistress who arrives for a weekend
in “Revenge has all the subtlety of
at her married lover’s desert villa sucking a lola bazooka, but it’s an arresting watch.”
lipop. “Her every action is sexualized by the male
Post Malone
Courtney Barnett
Arctic Monkeys
Beerbongs & Bentleys
Tell Me How You Really Feel
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
America’s current No. 1
album is “a compelling
soundtrack for the drunk
and incurious,” said
Brendan Klinkenberg
in Post
Malone, a 22-year-old
who makes “nakedly
vacant” music that wallows in hip-hop clichés, has just shattered a record set by the
Beatles by placing nine songs in Billboard’s
top 20, and his lyrics suggest there isn’t an
original thought in his head. But though
he deserves the heat he takes for being
a mindless white interloper, he’s also “a
melodic savant with a chameleon’s eye for
the reigning trends in pop music.” Nearly
every song on Beerbongs & Bentleys has
a solid hook; it’s “a great listen, despite
the void at its center.” This is music tailormade for the streaming age, says Jon
Caramanica in The New York Times.
“Perpetually narcotized,” Post Malone
“excels in syllables with blurry edges,” and
his melancholy blend of hip-hop, rock, and
soul feels designed to lull listeners into letting it play in an endless loop. Beerbongs
may present as an album; really, it’s “one
long song of the decontextualized now.”
Courtney Barnett possesses “an uncanny
ability to pair close-tothe-bone lyrics with joyously infectious powerpop melodies,” said
Jeremy Winograd in On
her second full-length album, the 30-yearold Australian singer-songwriter sounds
more burdened by commonplace anxieties
than she did on her acclaimed 2015 debut,
but her “impossibly effortless” tunesmithing “remains a preternatural force,” and
the mood of malaise is lightened by poppy
melodies and “bright, chunky guitars.” Keep
in mind, “Barnett’s most defining characteristic is her nonchalance,” said Amanda
Petrusich in The New Yorker. Whatever or
whoever the target of her complaints, “she
sounds gloriously, enviably unbothered,”
as if the undercurrent of every song is a
whispered confidence shared with a friend:
“Dude, can you believe how ridiculous it
is to be alive?” Still, this artist “has a punkrock heart,” and she’s more than willing to
thrash a guitar when occasion demands. “I
try to be patient,” she screams at one point,
“but I can only put up with so much s---!”
The Arctic Monkeys
have changed direction
before, but this album
is “the band’s boldest
step yet,” said Thomas
Smith in
Arriving five years after
the arena-rock smash
AM, the group’s sixth LP is a concept
album that conjures a lounge act at a lunar
resort. Composing on piano for the first
time, Monkeys auteur Alex Turner ditched
the anthemic choruses—and for that matter
any choruses at all—for leisurely, atmospheric songs, with tinkling piano, lush
strings, and crooning vocals reminiscent
of Serge Gainsbourg. Sure to be divisive,
the record might feel impenetrable at first,
but it “will reward deep-diving listeners.” It
definitely has “a certain vermouth-zonked
charm,” said Jon Dolan in Rolling Stone.
But Turner is no Bill Evans on piano, and
some of these meandering tunes are
“more like soused oblong comedy jags
than crafted songs.” Salute a great band
for trying, though. In the tradition of David
Bowie, whose influence is also felt here,
the boys attempted “a stylistic changeup
that doesn’t quite work. No shame in that.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Movies on TV
Monday, May 21
Oliver Stone’s combat
drama based on his own
Vietnam experiences garnered a Best Picture Oscar.
With Willem Dafoe and Tom
Berenson. (1986) 6:55 p.m.,
Tuesday, May 22
Single White Female
Bridget Fonda and Jennifer
Jason Leigh take the crazyroommate story to melodramatic heights in a modern B-movie classic. (1992)
6 p.m., Showtime
Wednesday, May 23
One of the best alieninvasion movies in years
casts Amy Adams as a
linguistics expert hired to
establish communications
with ominous extraterrestrial
visitors. (2016) 8 p.m., Epix
Thursday, May 24
A Foreign Affair
In a cynical rom-com from
Billy Wilder, a prim U.S.
congresswoman becomes
entangled in a romantic triangle while touring tattered
postwar Berlin. Jean Arthur
and Marlene Dietrich costar. (1948) 8 p.m., TCM
Friday, May 25
The Guns of Navarone
Gregory Peck, Anthony
Quinn, and David Niven
play commandos sent to
take out the heavy artillery with which the Nazis
are ruling the Aegean Sea.
(1961) 8 p.m., TCM
Saturday, May 26
Patti Cake$
An overweight white girl
from New Jersey chases
her dream of rap stardom
in a charming, low-budget
sitcom carried by its star,
Danielle Macdonald. (2017)
8 p.m., HBO
Sunday, May 27
The Fugitive
Harrison Ford plays a doctor
framed for his wife’s murder and forced to run as he
tries to catch the real killer.
With Tommy Lee Jones and
a thrilling train sequence.
(1993) 10 p.m., Cinemax
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The Week’s guide to what’s worth watching
Soccer’s World Cup is just weeks away. Before
the sport’s legions of fans start losing their minds
in pubs around the world, Fox Sports will be
offering a five-part documentary series focused
on young talents of the pitch who are looking
to become heroes for their home countries. On
premiere night, two episodes will run back-toback. The first profiles midfield prodigies Marco
Asensio of Spain and Max Meyer of Germany;
the second features Colombian defender Davinson
Sánchez. Friday, May 25, at 8 p.m., Fox Sports
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Fans of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock
might think the haunting 1975 film couldn’t be
improved on. Yet this six-part adaptation of Joan
Lindsay’s novel about the disappearance of a
group of Australian schoolgirls during the summer of 1900 feels, in its look and concerns about
female power, like a sister project to Hulu’s The
Handmaid’s Tale. Natalie Dormer of Game of
Thrones is terrific as an enigmatic headmistress.
Available for streaming Friday, May 25, Amazon
Dormer in Picnic at Hanging Rock
news media as the enemy of the people. Begins
Sunday, May 27, at 8 p.m., Showtime
1968: The Year That Changed America
The Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, clashes in
Chicago outside the Democratic National
Convention. Each day in 1968 seemed to deliver
another paradigm-shifting event. This two-night,
four-part retrospective marches viewers through
The Break With Michelle Wolf
the experience chronologically. In the opening act,
If Michelle Wolf’s controversial stand-up perfortide-turning attacks by our foes in Vietnam shake
mance at the recent White House Correspondents’ up the political landscape at home, leading to
Association dinner was a crass bid to drum up
President Johnson’s stunning decision to not seek
attention for her new weekly sketch series, then,
re-election. Sunday, May 27, at 9 p.m., CNN
in the words of he who skipped the event, mission
Other highlights
accomplished. Fans of the irreverent humor Wolf
The Great American Read
displayed on The Daily Show and her web series
Meredith Vieira unveils a list of America’s favorNow Hiring should expect more of the same.
ite 100 novels as she chats with authors and
Available for streaming Sunday, May 27, Netflix
book lovers in the two-hour premiere of a series
The Fourth Estate
that will crown a winner in October. Tuesday,
The New York Times reporters who cover the
May 22, at 8 p.m., PBS; check local listings
White House are in the fight of their lives. FilmSteve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening
maker Liz Garbus anticipated as much when
You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life
she talked her way into the Times newsrooms in
The two amigos offer a home-viewing edition of
early 2017, and her four-part documentary series
their current comedy tour. Available for streamcaptures just what it has been like for Maggie
ing Friday, May 25, Netflix
Haberman, Elisabeth Bumiller, Glenn Thrush,
and others as “the newspaper of record” has
Bipolar Rock ’N Roller
chronicled a president who generates surprises by Get to really know Mauro Ranallo, a raucous
the hour, wrestles daily with a looming federal
pro-wrestling announcer who battles bipolar disinvestigation, and routinely casts the mainstream
order. Friday, May 25, at 9 p.m., Showtime
Show of the week
The Tale
Dern rediscovers a past self.
Jennifer Fox’s first narrative feature isn’t an easy
watch. A semi-fictionalized memoir of sorts, it
stars Laura Dern as Jennifer Fox, a middle-aged
documentary maker who starts reconsidering
her memories of a teenage sexual encounter
with her running coach when she’s confronted
with a story she wrote about it at 13. The movie
goes meta often enough to be disorienting, and
its depictions of the relationship in question are
squirm inducing. But Dern’s portrayal is powerful,
as is the movie, which arrives at a moment when
countless women are bravely sharing similar testimony. Saturday, May 26, at 10 p.m., HBO
• All listings are Eastern Time.
Food & Drink
Critics’ choice: Three restaurants beyond city limits
Superior Motors Braddock, Pa.
The very existence of Superior Motors is “a
testament to the power of persistence,” said
Jordana Rothman in Food & Wine. The
story started with a big idea: Chef Kevin
Sousa wanted to open a high-end restaurant in a broken-down steel town, and he
wanted the venture to revitalize the community. The unveiling finally arrived last
summer, after a record-setting Kickstarter
campaign but near-fatal cost overruns, and
so far, so good: “Superior Motors is the
restaurant Sousa promised Braddock it
would be.” Not that it’s perfect, said Hal
Klein in Pittsburgh magazine. Sousa’s cooking is “more cerebral than soulful,” so he
overcomplicates dishes that could get by on
taste. Still, “I was thrilled with the textures,
balanced flavors, and bright plating of
fresh-as-the-sea hamachi dressed with avocado, black garlic, and pineapple.” What’s
more, Sousa is surrounded by pros, employing locals, and offering lifetime half-off discounts to all Braddock residents. If you seek
out his lively dining room, set in an old car
dealership, be sure to get a seat with a view
of the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, still
belching steam and flames across the street.
1211 Braddock Ave., (412) 271-1022
Buttonwood Newton, Mass.
People typically head to suburban Newton
for its schools, “not the crispy pork ribs
with honey za’atar and labneh,” said Devra
You could make a meal from a baguette
and berbere-spiced red lentil spread plus
a salad of cauliflower, pomegranate seeds,
and pine nuts dressed in sumac and honey.
“Punch just has a knack for getting things
right.” 51 Lincoln St., (617) 928-5771
Craft Urban’s Laskowski: Chicago moves west.
First in The Boston Globe. But if you’re
in Boston and looking for a great place to
eat, you must try Buttonwood. Consider
those ribs: Equal parts Mediterranean and
Southeast Asian, they have bite and bark,
with meat that’s “the perfect compromise
between tenderness and chew.” Folks who
live in Boston’s suburbs are “basically city
dwellers with better backyards,” and chefowner Dave Punch knows better than to
cater down. For a special-event dinner, try
the New Bedford sea scallops with artichokes and almond and grape salsa verde,
or the monster pork chop with Muscat
grape compote. Though house-made
sausages have become common, Punch’s
flavorful chorizo “blew my mind,” and he
can satisfy burger or vegetable cravings too.
Recipe of the week
Avocados aren’t just for avocado toast and guacamole, said Charlotte March in Sunset.
“Rich, creamy, and gorgeous,” this chocolate tart is “sure to make you an avocadodessert convert.” It’s perfect with pistachios, but almonds can be substituted.
Courtesy of Craft Urban Kitchen, Iain Bagwell
Dark chocolate avocado tart
½ cup shelled, unsalted roasted pistachios • 6 oz dark chocolate wafer cookies
such as Famous • 2 tsp granulated sugar • kosher salt • 5 tbsp unsalted butter,
melted • 2 medium soft-ripe avocados • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature • 6 tbsp
powdered sugar • 2 tsp lemon juice • 2 tsp vanilla extract • 4 oz dark chocolate (60 to
64 percent cacao) • ½ cup whipping cream
• Preheat oven to 350. Pulse pistachios in
a food processor until coarsely ground;
reserve 1 tbsp. Add cookies, granulated
sugar, and a pinch of salt to remaining
nuts and whirl until inely ground. Add
butter and whirl until mixture
is just combined. Press into
bottom and sides of a 9- to
10-inch tart pan with a removable rim. Bake until fragrant,
10 to 12 minutes. Let cool
completely on a rack.
• Scoop avocados into food
processor. Add cream cheese,
powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and
a pinch of salt; whirl until smooth. Spread
illing in crust. Chill while making ganache.
• Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat
cream in a saucepan until bubbles form at
edge. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand 1 minute;
whisk until smooth. Cool ganache until just warm, 5 to 6
minutes. Pour ganache over
avocado illing and spread to
cover. Sprinkle with reserved
pistachios. Chill uncut 2 to 8
hours. Wrap airtight after 2.
Craft Urban Geneva, Ill.
“Urban” might be the last word any
Chicagoan would associate with the town
of Geneva, but the owner of Craft Urban
is quite serious about his vision, said Phil
Vettel in the Chicago Tribune. Bernie
Laskowski was a notable Chicago chef
before his push into the suburbs, and in
Geneva, a bedroom community 45 miles
from the Loop, he was determined to create
a city vibe by combining a handsome barebrick dining room with a compact, upscale
menu. How compact? You’ll find no appetizers here. Instead chef Andrew Sikkelerus
offers a choice between bar snacks like
tempura-fried cheese curds or various
“breads and spreads.” Fish entrées are well
sourced, and headlined by Rushing Waters
rainbow trout in a lemon-caper sauce. The
porchetta, served on a bed of cannellini, is
a star among the meaty options, and desserts include such “classic indulgences”
as a tall apple pie and excellent chocolate
mousse. One truly urban touch: After 10
on Friday and Saturday nights, the kitchen
spoons out ramen, and canned beers are
half price. 211 James St., (331) 248-8161
Wine: Etna biancos
“Saltiness” is not a trait Americans typically look for in their white wines, but
maybe they should, said Eric Asimov in
The New York Times. Many great wines
have “a distinct saline tang,” and it’s a
hallmark of Etna biancos, wines made
largely or entirely from carricante grapes
grown in the foothills of Sicily’s Mount
Etna. Because no Etna biancos are
mass produced, just don’t count on
inding these particular bottles.
2016 Benanti ($25). The salty, herbal
flavors of this 100 percent carricante
are a bit faint, but they have staying
power. For a true stunner, move up
to Benanti’s Etna Bianco Superiore.
2016 Graci ($28). This “tangy,
lip-smacking” wine has a similar
flavor proile but a richer texture.
2016 I Vigneri di Salvo Foto Aurora
($32). The Aurora seems “still more
concentrated,” but though it also
has more minerality, it’s not heavy,
and it’s evocative of its place.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
This week’s dream: A coast-to-coast walk across England
Dales National Park, and we got
My wife and I didn’t know what we
even luckier farther on in North York
were in for when we set out to hike
Moors National Park. Because it
all the way across Northern England,
was August, “the heather was in full
said Carl Meuser in The San Diego
bloom, and the purple blossoms lit up
Union-Tribune. “But that, really, was
the high, rocky ground.”
the point of it all.” Following a patchwork of trails first outlined in 1973 in
Why make the trip? “For me, what
A Coast to Coast Walk, a book that
made it worth it was the eccentricity of
created a popular pastime, we covered
it all.” The walk revealed, at eye level,
all 194 miles in 11 days. Starting at
how history and geography “shape the
St. Bees Head on the Irish Sea and
character of a nation.” And if you’re
walking eastward with the wind at our
open to pleasant surprises, you’ll have
backs, we ambled through countless
many. On a route shared by backpacksheep pastures, passed through three
ers, day walkers, and people like us
national parks, and followed ancient
A hiker making tracks in Yorkshire Dales National Park.
who were having a porter service ship
Roman roads and even older paths that
peak, 2,500-foot Kidsty Pike. But don’t
our bags from one B&B to the next, “we
date to the Neolithic ax trade. Although
underestimate the sections of the walk that didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t
our feet were raw by the time we reached
warm and engaging.” Once, we enjoyed
Robin Hood’s Bay, on the North Sea coast, connect the parks. The right to walk from
place to place has held for a millennium,
flapjacks with several wonderful strangers
we regretted only that we hadn’t given the
and as we followed our compass, map, and when we stopped at a barn serving hot tea.
journey three more days.
guidebook, “we met wonderful people,
“You can’t pay a tour company to set up
saw beautiful ruins, and even ate good pub such happy happenstances.”
The first national park you encounter is
food.” Of course, it rained often. But the
Contours Walking Holidays (
the Lake District—rugged, hilly, unkempt
sun came out for us in bucolic Yorkshire
offers a coast-to-coast porter service.
land that climbs to the journey’s highest
Versailles meets Colorado.
The Ramble
The Ramble “isn’t just
another boutique hotel,” said
Mark Ellwood in CNTraveler
.com. The first lodging place
to open in the artsy district
known as River North, or
RiNo, the 50-room property
“will change the way you
think about a weekend in
Denver.” Restaurant and bar
operations are being handled
by Death & Co., a New York
City spot that’s been piling
up “world’s best bar” honors
for a decade. The entire hotel
is stylishly retro; “think 17thcentury France goes Wild
West.” Still, you won’t be
blamed if you never get past
the craft cocktails served in
the soaring lobby.; doubles
from $241
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Getting the flavor of...
Canada’s sasquatch capital
Dolly Parton’s amusement park
In Klemtu, a fishing village on British Columbia’s
Swindle Island, people don’t bother to wonder if
sasquatches exist, said Kat Long in MentalFloss
.com. Witness accounts have circulated among
residents for decades, and as members of the
Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, they trade tales of
tall, hairy hominids that date back many generations. It’s probably no coincidence that Klemtu
sits within the Great Bear Rainforest, a protected
area where black bears, grizzlies, and spirit bears
roam: If sasquatches do exist, they, too, could
easily hide in the caves of the dense old-growth
conifer woods and feast on salmon and shellfish.
The locals accept that some visitors don’t believe
in sasquatches, but they might share their stories.
Doug Neasloss, who was Canada’s first indigenous licensed bear guide, claims he saw a sasquatch, or puk’wi, in 2001. “I’ve had humpback
whales come right up under my kayak,” he says.
“But this was the scariest moment of my life.”
Dollywood is no Disney World, and that’s a good
thing, said Amy Henderson in WeeklyStandard
.com. Neither a shrine to its namesake nor a bigspectacle entertainment complex, the amusement
park that Dolly Parton has built in Tennessee’s
Smoky Mountains just may remind you of a
19th-century pleasure garden: Like the impresarios of that era, the country music legend wanted
to create a place where families could simply
have fun together outdoors. Sure, Dollywood
has Ferris wheels, eight roller coasters, and all
the other rides you’d expect at Tennessee’s most
visited tourist attraction. But there are also stores
selling Appalachian crafts, a museum of Southern
gospel music, a steam train that threads through
the park, and a replica of the one-room cabin
that Parton grew up in. The author of a new
book about the park admits being surprised by
its authenticity: “Wherever I looked for irony at
Dollywood,” he wrote, “I was disappointed.”
Last-minute travel deals
Big Bend and beyond
Kayak the Rio Grande and hike
Big Bend National Park on a
weeklong guided tour of West
Texas that costs $2,999 a person if you buy a $20 membership with REI, the camping outfitter and tour operator. Book
by May 28.
Springtime in wine country
Through June 28, the Kenwood
Inn & Spa in Sonoma Valley,
Calif., is discounting weeknight
stays. With the Passport to
Spring package, a double starts
at $233 a night, down from
$389, and includes spa credits
and a bottle of wine.
Jewels of Arabia
Seabourn, a luxury cruise
operator, is offering credits and
upgrades on voyages booked
by June 12. November’s 18-day
Jewels of Arabia and India
cruise, for example, starts at
$6,499 a person, double occupancy, down from $8,099.
Alamy, courtesy of The Ramble Hotel
Hotel of the week
The 2018 Ford F-150 Diesel: What the critics say
Kelley Blue Book
Ford’s light-duty pickup has enjoyed a 35year run as America’s best-selling vehicle for
a reason: “It keeps trying new things.” Team
Ford’s latest gift to truck nation is a diesel
engine—the irst offered in the F-150’s
history—and the turbocharged Power
Stroke V-6 is “a potent little powerhouse”
that delivers signiicantly improved fuel
economy (30 mpg on the highway in a 4x2
model). It’s also remarkably smooth and
quiet for an oil burner.
Motor Trend
“As you’d expect, there’s a ton of bottomend torque,” and on paper, a 4x2 with a
regular cab can tow 11,400 pounds. But
hitched to a 6,500-pound trailer, our fourdoor SuperCrew strained to climb hills and
pass at highway speeds. It burns less fuel
than its gas-powered siblings, but budget
watchers should note that the diesel engine
can be had only in higher-end trims, unless
you’re a fleet buyer.
Car and Driver
A gasoline engine would fare worse towing on highway hills, and besides, “eficiency is the goal here, not pulling-power
supremacy.” If you regularly tow moderate
loads over long distances—say, a pair of
snowmobiles—the diesel will burn much
A more efficient F-150, from $46,410
less fuel and in the long run could save you
money. Beyond that, “there’s no denying”
that the F-150 diesel is “a polished performer.”
The best of...this summer’s beach trends
Badger Sport Broad
Spectrum Sunscreen
Moscot Originals
Lemtosh Sunglasses
Yeti Tundra 35 Cooler
A year ago, the one-strap
was a trend; now it’s
entering staple territory.
Onia’s nylon-spandex
suit creates a flattering
silhouette with its twotone color blocking and
cutout back. Available in
ive colorways.
“Transparent frames
have never looked
better”—thanks to brands
going see-through on
classic eyeglass shapes.
You’ve probably seen
Truman Capote and
Jeff Goldblum in the
Lemtosh, and the frame
looks great with bottlegreen lenses.
Yeti coolers are the best
around, combining outstanding performance
with “a fabulous sense
of style.” This summer,
the Tundra 35, which
holds 21 cans plus ice, is
one of three sizes available in a limited-edition
coral hue.
More and more beachgoers are realizing that
the chemicals in standard sunscreens are
devastating the world’s
coral reefs. Avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate
and choose one with zinc
oxide instead, such as
this unscented, organic,
water-resistant cream.
Source: Men’s Journal
From $250,
Source: Sunset
Onia Sienna
Color Wheel Towel
We could tell you round
beach towels have taken
off because they’re
roomy enough for two,
“but mostly they’re fun
and charming.”
is a good source, especially if you like watermelon cross-sections
and other loud patterns.
Tip of the week...
A bedsheet primer
And for those who have
Best websites and apps...
For planning a wedding
QThread count: This number means little, so
instead choose by weave: “That’s what lends
linens their feel and features.”
QPercale: A percale weave is cool and
breathable, making it great for summer.
QFlannel: Brushed and shaved for softness,
flannel is ultrawarm and best during winter.
QChambray: A nice middle-ground choice,
chambray is comfortable year-round, “just
like your favorite button-down.”
QJersey: A jersey weave is “stretchy but not
stifling”; you want the same tight weave and
thick material you expect in a quality T-shirt.
QSateen: Similar to satin but made with different fibers, sateen has a slight sheen and
“looks smooth without ironing.” It’s almost
as crisp as percale.
QTwill: “Peach-fuzz soft but lightweight,”
twill has an advantage over jersey, flannel,
and other warm fabrics: Its diagonal weave
prevents it from pilling.
With the Jingoo Birdcage
Speaker Light, you can
inally have a songbird
in your home without
having to keep a living
creature in a cage. Far
more stylish than most
Bluetooth speakers,
the Jingoo (whose
name refers to the
song of the oriole as
it appears in traditional Chinese poetry)
packs a tweeter inside a bird-like shell made
of ceramic, and a woofer in the base. The
bird can be illuminated to create ambient
lighting, and its speakers deliver surprisingly good sound. Several museum shops
sell the Jingoo, and the bird’s color varies
depending on the shop you choose.
QWeddingWire streamlines the search for
wedding venues and every vendor you’ll
need, including a photographer, a florist, a
DJ, a caterer, and guest hotels. You can even
pay each vendor through the website or app.
QWedding Mapper creates an interactive
map of key wedding locations to share with
guests. It can help the whole crowd get from
the hotel to the ceremony to the reception.
QZola is an online wedding registry looking
to do much more. If you want to encourage
cash gifts, try ZankYou instead.
QAzazie sells wedding gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses in sizes 0 to 30. The app and
website can create a virtual showroom to let
the entire bridal party participate in choosing. rents tuxedoes, suits, and
accessories to groomsmen. The site has a
detailed sizing tool and will send a replacement free of charge if the first suit doesn’t
fit properly.
Source: Martha Stewart Living
Source: The New York Times
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Best properties on the market
This week: Mountain homes
1 W Gatlinburg, Tenn. Ringed by the Smoky Mountains,
this three-bedroom 2007 home is oriented so its main
living spaces face the Smokies’ highest peak. Craftsman
details include fir beams and posts; maple floors; a floorto-ceiling stone fireplace; and walls of glass doors and
windows. Outside are a wraparound deck, a screened
porch, a patio with stone fireplace, a yard, and mature
trees. $1,999,000. Julia Jubran and Jenny Snodgrass,
Keller Williams Realty/Knoxville–West, (865) 694-5904
2 X Asheville, N.C. This English Manor–style home near the
Appalachians is 10 minutes from downtown Asheville. The sixbedroom 1925 house features an imperial staircase, a wainscoted
dining room, and a gilded parlor. The 2.8-acre lot includes gardens,
mountain-view stone terraces, and a carriage house with a garage
and a guest suite. $4,500,000. Laura Livaudais, Ivester Jackson |
BlackStream/Christie’s International Real Estate, (828) 712-5445
3 X Stevensville,
Mont. The curved
great room of this
1992 five-bedroom
home looks out
on the Bitterroot Mountains
through floor-toceiling windows.
The master suite
has a fireplace and two-person stone
spa nook; the kitchen features an
eat-in island with sink and grill. The
60-acre wooded property includes a
horse barn, a three-car garage, and
a three-bedroom guesthouse with a
shop and a wine room. $1,998,000.
Rebecca Donnelly, Bergquist-Donnelly
Team/PureWest Christie’s International Real Estate, (406) 546-0067
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Best properties on the market
4 X Waterbury, Vt. Built
atop a hill, this 2004 fourbedroom home overlooks the
Worcester Range and Waterbury reservoir. The openconcept kitchen, dining, and
living room has a glass wall
with mountain views; other
modern-industrial details
include curved steel beams,
Vermont slate and laminate
floors, and a stacked-stone
fireplace. The 29-acre
property features a saltwater
pool in a concrete-tile surround, lawns, woods, and
private trails. $1,450,000.
Sharon Bateman, The Bateman Group/Pall Spera Co.,
(802) 371-8777
Steal of the week
5 S Crested Butte, Colo. This three-bedroom organic-modern
home offers views of Mount Crested Butte and Nicholson Lake.
The house features cathedral ceilings and reclaimed-wood floors,
and includes a bunkroom and a finished basement with guest room
and second living room. The 1.7-acre property has two decks, a
hot tub, lawns, and two garages, and comes with lake access and
fishing rights on the Slate River. $2,300,000. Channing Boucher,
Crested Butt/Sotheby’s International Realty, (970) 596-3228
6 S Boise, Idaho This
four-bedroom log
home sits on 2 acres of
rolling hills in the Boise
National Forest. The
house has two master
bedrooms, hardwood floors in the main space, wood-clad walls
and ceilings, a wood-burning stove in the living room, and oversize
windows framing mountain views. Outside are an attached garage,
yard space, and covered decks for wildlife viewing. $375,000. Paul
Heim, New View–Silvercreek Realty Group, (208) 794-8175
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The bottom line
QThe 23 largest U.S. airlines
earned a combined profit of
$15.5 billion in 2017, including $4.6 billion from baggage
fees and $2.9 billion from
reservation-change fees.
Los Angeles Times
QAmong S&P 500 CEOs
who got raises last year, the
10 percent who received
the biggest pay increases
scored—as a group—in the
middle of the pack in terms
of total shareholder return.
Similarly, the 50 companies
posting the best total returns
to shareholders scored in the
middle of the pack in terms of
CEO pay.
The Wall Street Journal
The news at a glance
Media: CBS goes to war with the Redstones
struggle over the fate of the
CBS has chosen the “nuclear
two media giants.”
option” in its bid to free itself
from the grip of the Redstone
family, said Joe Flint and
The move to dilute the
Keach Hagey in The Wall
Redstones’ voting power over
Street Journal. The broadCBS “is unusual,” said Kim
casting giant surprised the
Masters in The Hollywood
media industry this week by
Reporter. It also reflects the
filing a lawsuit against its parincreasingly “personal warShari Redstone vs. Les Moonves
ent company, the Redstones’
fare” between CBS chief Les
National Amusements. The suit alleges National
Moonves and Shari Redstone, daughter of the
Amusements, which also controls 80 percent of
ailing 94-year-old media mogul Sumner Redstone.
Viacom voting shares, had breached its fiduciary
Shari, who has pushed hard for the Viacom-CBS
duty by trying to force a CBS-Viacom merger, and merger, has repeatedly clashed with Moonves over
invokes an obscure provision in the CBS corporate her insistence that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish be
charter permitting CBS to issue shares in order
given a significant role in the merged company.
to dilute the family’s voting power. The dramatic
The fate of the Redstones’ multibillion-dollar
move significantly escalates “a years-long power
media empire is now “on the line.”
QU.S. imports of yoga
Financial Times
QThe U.S. Department of
Labor in 2017 counted just
seven strikes involving 1,000
or more workers and lasting
at least one shift—the secondlowest annual number ever
recorded. This year’s activity
has accelerated, however;
from teacher strikes in Oklahoma and Arizona to hospitalworker strikes in California, as
many major work stoppages
had taken place by the end of
March as in all of 2017.
QWith China’s recent
decision to stop importing
recycled materials, the U.S.
is in danger of running out of
space for its trash. America
has been forced to dispose
of 676,000 metric tons of
waste this year that would
have otherwise been sent to
China. At current rates, most
Northeastern landfills will be
full by 2029; the rest of the
country’s landfills will be at
capacity by 2036.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Tech: Xerox abandons Fujifilm merger
Xerox this week abandoned its multibillion-dollar deal to merge with
Fujifilm, said Jethro Mullen in The printing giant announced
a new agreement with activist investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason,
who have a combined 15 percent stake in Xerox and “had bitterly
opposed the Fujifilm deal.” Fujifilm countered that Xerox may be
unable to legally cancel their agreement. Announced in January, the
original deal was blasted by Icahn and Deason, who claimed it undervalued the company “and would be its death knell.”
Trade: NAFTA rewrite unlikely this year
President Trump’s effort to rewrite the North American Free Trade
Agreement this year could be in peril, said Eric Lawrence in the Detroit
Free Press. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan had set this week as an
informal deadline for a new deal to be struck, in order for Congress to
have enough time to vote on it before the midterms. But negotiators
for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico remain “far apart” on key issues,
“particularly those related to the automotive industry.” With Mexico’s
presidential elections set for July 1 and U.S. elections in November, U.S.
ratification of an accord this year now appears increasingly unlikely.
Finance: Mortgage rates hit 7-year high
Mortgage rates have swelled to their highest level in seven years, said
Diana Olick in The interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage for the average borrower hit 5 percent this week, after beginning
the year at roughly 4 percent. The rise “could not have come at a
worse time for the spring housing market.” Buyers are struggling to
find affordable homes for sale, as the supply of listings has dropped to
record lows in many major markets. Home prices are also rising “at the
fastest rate in four years.”
Banks: Barclays CEO fined in whistleblowing scandal
Barclays CEO Jes Staley has been hit with an $870,000 fine by British
regulators for attempting to expose a company whistleblower, said
Stephen Morris and John Glover in The penalty,
the third-largest fine ever imposed by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct
Authority, is roughly 15 percent of Staley’s reported 2016 pay. Barclays
also clawed back nearly $650,000 of Staley’s 2016 bonus. Staley
repeatedly attempted to identify an anonymous whistleblower who
complained to Barclays’ board about the recruitment of one of Staley’s
former colleagues, despite being warned his actions were inappropriate.
The end of
instant sellouts?
Taylor Swift’s fans
noticed something odd
when she began her
Reputation stadium tour
in Arizona last week:
empty seats, said Anne
Steele in The Wall Street
Journal. The tour is testing a new approach that
could “reset how tickets
to high-profile tours are
sold” by squeezing out
scalpers. Automated
programs that harvest
huge numbers of tickets
in the first few minutes
of a sale have frustrated
the industry for years.
Swift’s strategy has
been to allocate half of
the available tickets to a
Verified Fan presale on
Ticketmaster. Registered
users, who could “boost
their standing in the
ticket queue by watching
music videos” or purchasing Swift merchandise, received codes
giving them the chance
to purchase discounted
tickets over a six-day
presale period. Only
3 percent of those tickets made their way to
resale sites, according to
Ticketmaster, compared
with the usual average
of 30 to 50 percent of
tickets for high-demand
Newscom, Getty, Newscom
leggings overtook those of
women’s jeans last year,
as the stretchy pants are
increasingly seen as
acceptable for both
leisure and work.
In March, leggings
were added to the U.K.
government’s “basket” of
goods that reflect shopping
habits across the country
and are used to calculate
official inflation statistics.
Making money
Payments: An Apple–Goldman Sachs credit card
be used in places that don’t yet accept
“Apple and Goldman Sachs want a piece
digital payments. And that means more
of your wallet,” said Maria LaMagna
revenue: When consumers use Apple
in The technology
Pay now, Apple receives 0.15 percent
giant and the blue-chip investment bank
of every transaction. The deal with
are teaming up to create a joint credit
Goldman could give it an even larger
card that could be introduced as early
cut. Goldman, too, is in the midst of a
as next year. Although details on terms
major shift. After the financial crisis, “it
and perks are still being hashed out, the
became a bank, in part because regulacard will likely be branded with Apple
tors forced it to,” and it’s betting big on
Pay, Apple’s mobile payment and digital
offering more products to Main Street.
wallet platform. Consumers who spend
Even if these companies aren’t obvious
on Apple products will reportedly receive
partners, right now they share “a clearly
extra rewards, and Goldman is said to
demonstrated appetite for change.”
be considering in-store loans to Apple
Trying to get more people to use Apple Pay
customers buying iPhones and other deStill, Goldman’s “first foray into plastic” promises to be at least
vices. The move “could address priorities for both companies,”
said Hugh Son in Apple is hoping to boost revenue a little fraught, said Tripp Mickle and Liz Hoffman in The Wall
Street Journal. Its experience with consumer finance is “scarcely
“from things other than gadgets,” while Goldman has been
two years old,” and the credit-card market is a “cutthroat busipushing more aggressively into consumer banking, after launchness” dominated by larger rivals such as JPMorgan Chase and
ing a retail banking business called Marcus in 2016 for online
Citigroup. But Goldman knows it needs to look somewhere for
savings accounts and personal loans.
new profits; since the financial crisis, its revenue from securities
trading has fallen by two-thirds. And if a tie-up with Apple can
At first glance, Goldman and Apple “make an unlikely team,”
offer anything, it is access to “a devoted customer base teemsaid Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky in
ing with wealthy, well-traveled young adults,” said Emily Flitter
But this partnership “is a story of reinvention for both.” For
and Jack Nicas in The New York Times. This jointly branded
Apple, pursuing a bigger chunk of the mobile-payments busicard could help Goldman insert itself into the lives of millions of
ness is “part of its services story,” in which it’s trying to move
iPhone users. From there, it will be far easier to entice them with
beyond selling only hardware. A physical credit card would
“the other services the bank has to offer.”
vastly extend the reach of Apple Pay, since the plastic could
What the experts say
Pausing student loans
“Beware of student loan consultants offering
‘forbearances,’” said Ann Carrns in The New
York Times. That is a fancy word for an option that lets former students temporarily stop
making loan payments, yet still be considered
current on their loans. Some colleges are promoting forbearances, according to the Government Accountability Office, even though
they may not be in borrowers’ best interests.
Colleges prefer borrowers to be considered upto-date on loans, the report said, because if too
many people default within a certain time period, the college may lose its eligibility to offer
federal financial aid. Forbearances can help
colleges avoid that penalty, but for borrowers
who use the option, the loan interest continues
to pile up, so they “can end up owing much
more than they did in the first place.”
Affordable flood insurance
“You don’t have to live in a high-risk flood
zone to be hit with expensive flood damage,”
said Kimberly Lankford in
A quarter of the National Flood Insurance
Program’s claims come from areas with lowto-moderate flood risk. So even if you aren’t
required by your mortgage company to carry
a flood insurance policy, “it can be worthwhile
Charity of the week
to protect against the risk.” A policy with the
National Flood Insurance Program, which provides up to $250,000 in dwelling coverage and
up to $100,000 in property coverage, can cost
as little as $456 a year in a low-risk area. And
check with private insurers, which offer competitive rates in some states. You may also get
a discount on flood insurance in high-risk areas
by making certain home improvements, such
as elevating your home or adding flood vents.
Low-balling retirement spending
Underestimating how much you are likely to
spend in your golden years “can be the difference between a comfortable retirement and
one that is a struggle,” said Neal Templin in
The Wall Street Journal. Soon-to-be retirees
often carefully estimate what they are likely to
spend on day-to-day needs and activities but
“forget to factor in more periodic, and mostly
predictable, expenses like a new car or a new
roof” that can “blow holes in their budgets.”
Many people also underestimate how much
they’ll need for health care, as well as for
entertainment to occupy their newfound free
time. “Instead of working five or six days a
week and playing one,” it’s typically the opposite, though entertainment spending typically
falls as people get older.
Founded in 1978,
the Atlantabased Center
for Puppetry
Arts (puppet
.org) is the largest charity in the
U.S. dedicated
to entertaining and educating the public
in puppet theater. The center inspires
visitors from all walks of life through its
stage performances, films, arts-infused
workshops, and interactive museum. At
the museum, people learn about puppetry
traditions from around the world, as well
as the history behind iconic figures such
as Kermit the Frog and his creator, Jim
Henson. The center also fosters a love for
imagination through its workshops, teaching children how to express ideas and
emotions through their own puppets and
demonstrating to adults how to use puppetry skills such as communication and
creativity in the workplace. For those not
in Atlanta, the charity offers educational
programs via videoconferencing.
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 25, 2018
Best columns: Business
Health care: Trump’s plan to lower drug prices
Rachel Slade
The Boston Globe
Big firms,
Bryce Covert
The New York Times
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
In our modern global trading system, “moving goods
around costs next to nothing,” said Rachel Slade.
Shipping companies have achieved “mind-boggling
economies of scale,” with megavessels carrying
20,000 containers constantly crisscrossing the oceans,
and automated cranes in every port loading and unloading ships “in record time.” The maritime industry
brings Americans bottled water from France, shoes
from Cambodia, and phones from China—all at affordable prices; cheap shipping truly is “the backbone
of the global economy.” Yet shipping companies face
“the same relentless downward pressure on prices” as
global manufacturing does, and firms are “creaking
under the strain.” Many developing countries have
bankrolled new ports and vessels and subsidized shipping in order to “tip the trade scales in their favor.”
As a result, shipping rates on some key global trade
lanes have fallen below cost. China has been particularly aggressive with subsidies; it now costs more for
a U.S. firm to ship goods “within the U.S. than for a
product to get from Guangzhou to Boston.” It’s possible that global supply chains “will get leaner and
more efficient year after year.” But a cheap shirt—
made of Indian cotton that’s processed in China and
sewn in Vietnam—already makes it to Americans
“for pennies.” In the end, “how cheap is too cheap?”
Regulators tend to judge a merger’s merits on whether
consumers “will fare worse,” said Bryce Covert. But
there’s a “potentially more dangerous side effect”
when two big companies join forces: “Workers have
fewer options when they look for jobs,” which often
results in lower wages. We’re witnessing a historic
pace for mergers this year. So far, $1.7 trillion worth
of deals have been announced worldwide, higher
than the precrisis record set in 2007. In the U.S.,
T-Mobile and Sprint are merging, Cigna is buying
Express Scripts, and oil refiner Marathon Petroleum
is snapping up its rival Andeavor. All these unions
mean fewer companies, reducing workers’ bargaining
power. By one estimate, employment in the United
States is 5 to 18 percent lower than it would be otherwise because the economy is so dominated by a
few large employers, and wages are between 13 and
31 percent lower. A recent study of job vacancies
concluded that most U.S. job markets “are incredibly concentrated—a customer service representative
in Boise, Idaho, for example, has only a few options
for where she can work.” No antitrust court has ever
stopped a merger on the grounds that eliminating a
company might hurt workers. Nine years into a slow
recovery with stagnant wages, perhaps it’s time to
take that into consideration.
is typically inserted into contracts by
President Trump has “the power to sink
PBMs to prohibit pharmacists from tellpharmaceutical stocks” with a single
ing patients when it’s cheaper to pay
tweet, said Katie Thomas in The New
with cash instead of using their insurYork Times. But when he unveiled a muchance. “No one, including the president,
anticipated “blueprint” to lower drug costs
believes that Big Pharma is as pure as the
last week, Trump “largely avoided the
driven snow.” But he knows soaring drug
issues the industry fears the most.” Gone
prices “can’t be solved with panaceas
were proposals that candidate Trump
like re-importation or government price
loudly supported in 2016—namely, to
controls.” It’s also not true that Medicare
allow Medicare to directly negotiate drug
won’t be allowed to negotiate prices, said
prices and permit Americans to import
Avik Roy in Trump has procheaper drugs from Canada. In their place
posed giving insurers more flexibility to
were “light on detail” proposals to allow
Did Big Pharma dodge a bullet?
design their list of “protected class” drugs
Medicare Part D plans to pay different
to drive better deals. They also may get the power to negotiate on
amounts for the same drug, depending on the illness, and to perdrugs that are administered in doctor’s offices. These are more numit patients to keep a portion of the rebates that are normally
pocketed by insurers. Trump also vaguely suggested that countries anced approaches than liberals would prefer, but if enacted, they
with lower drug costs were “free-riding” off American innovation would “represent a sea change in pharmaceutical pricing policy.”
and should be forced to pay more. This speech was a “big win”
for Big Pharma, said Vann Newkirk in Nothing Actually, “there is little in Trump’s plan that is likely to make a
Trump said “challenged the pharmaceutical industry or the direct big difference in the near term,” said Max Nisen in Bloomberg
.com. The Medicare Part D changes will only “slightly lower
role it plays in setting prices.”
costs” for the government and seniors, and the PBM reforms will
do little more than make good sound bites on the campaign trail.
On the contrary, said David Catron in The American Spectator:
This plan is “eminently sensible.” To curb patients’ out-of-pocket The truth is, in order to gain real leverage over drug companies,
the government would need “to be able to refuse Medicare coverexpenses, Trump is vowing to crack down on pharmacy benefit
age of certain medications and firmly steer patients to cheaper
managers (PBMs), firms that negotiate prices between insurers
treatments.” Such restrictions would be wildly unpopular. “Amerand drug manufacturers. These middlemen manage the rebates
icans have come to expect unfettered access to an ever-expanding
that drug companies use to entice insurers to offer their drugs,
roster of medicines, without having to pay a lot for it.” Until we
and too often the PBMs keep portions of these rebates for themaccept the trade-offs needed to fix the system, “drug pricing rhetselves instead of passing them on to consumers. The president
has also proposed eliminating the “Pharmacist Gag Rule,” which oric will continue to be fiery, but policy will be milquetoast.”
The Superman star who battled bipolar disorder
When Margot Kidder
was cast as Lois Lane
in 1978’s big-budget
Superman, she didn’t
have high hopes for the movie.
The comic strip had been adapted
for radio and TV decades earlier,
but the all-American Man of Steel
seemed like a relic in the cynical
post-Watergate era. “I thought it
was going to be a turkey,” Kidder
said. What saved the film was the
screwball chemistry between its
two leads. Kidder played Daily
Planet reporter Lane as a sassy go-getter, and
Christopher Reeve gave a charming deadpan
performance as her nerdy colleague Clark Kent
and his superhero alter ego. The film was a box
office smash, as were two of its sequels. But
Kidder’s career would be derailed by her highprofile struggle with bipolar disorder—after a
1996 breakdown, she was found disheveled and
disoriented in a stranger’s backyard outside Los
Angeles. “If you’re gonna fall apart,” the actress
would later joke, “do it in your own bedroom.”
Kidder was born in Yellowknife, in Canada’s
Northwest Territories, to a teacher mother and
mining engineer father, said
“She suffered emotional problems as a teenager”
and made her first suicide attempt at 14 after
being dumped by a boyfriend.
Kidder started acting while at
boarding school in Toronto and
made her movie debut as a prostitute in the 1969 comic romp
Gaily, Gaily. The next year she
starred opposite Gene Wilder in
the comedy Quackser Fortune
Has a Cousin in the Bronx, and
then became “a self-described
‘scream queen,’” said The
Washington Post. Her “suggestion of cunning and sensuality”
elevated Brian de Palma’s 1972
horror film Sisters and the 1974 sorority-house
slasher Black Christmas.
Superman and its three sequels made Kidder a
household name, but it was a success she never
repeated, said The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). She
labored in “uninspiring TV films and flops” while
going through several marriages—the second of
which lasted only six days—“and struggling with
a drinking problem.” Kidder spiraled after a 1990
car crash left her with a spinal injury and piles of
debt, and six years later she suffered her public
breakdown. She credited natural treatments with
helping her recover and resumed work, taking
small parts in movies and TV shows, including
the Superman spin-off Smallville. “I guess,” she
said, “I came to terms with my demons.”
The film editor who became a Hollywood icon
Anne V. Coates’
mastery as a film editor is epitomized by
one of cinema’s most
celebrated cuts. In an early scene in
1962’s Lawrence of Arabia, British
army officer T.E. Lawrence (played
by Peter O’Toole) learns that he is
being sent to the Arabian Peninsula
and then blows out a burning match.
Instantly, the action cuts to an orange
sun rising over scorched desert sands.
The cut—conceived by Coates—has
been hailed as a master class in how
film editors can splice together a director’s raw
footage to transport viewers through space
and time. Coates won an Academy Award for
Lawrence of Arabia and would receive four
more Oscar nominations over her six-decade
career. “Can you imagine a job,” she said while
accepting a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2016,
“where you get paid to look into the eyes of
George Clooney and Peter O’Toole?”
Everett Collection, AP
Anne V.
Born to “an impeccably bourgeois family” in
southern England, “Coates was not allowed to
go to the cinema as a child,” said The Guardian
(U.K.). Nevertheless, she fell in love with the
silver screen as a teenager and vowed to break
into the movie business. She first
had to overcome the objections of
her uncle, English film producer
J. Arthur Rank, said The New York
Times. Devoutly religious, Rank
was determined to protect his niece
“from the fleshpots of cinema.”
Coates trained as a nurse and for
a while worked in a plastic surgery
center, treating disfigured World
War II veterans. Rank ultimately
relented, finding her a job working
on religious films for churches.
“At the time, film editing was considered an unglamorous technical job that was
often filled by women,” said The Washington
Post. Coates had her first film credit in 1952
with The Pickwick Papers; for Lawrence of
Arabia, she “had to make visual sense of 33 miles
of raw footage.” Coates ultimately worked on
more than 50 films, with Oscar nominations for
Becket (1964), The Elephant Man (1980), In the
Line of Fire (1993), and Out of Sight (1998).
Her final film credit was 2015’s Fifty Shades of
Grey, which she claimed she tried to sex up. “I
would have had her trussed up like a suitcase and
hoisted to the ceiling,” she said, “but [the producers] worried they wouldn’t get the R rating.”
The British teacher
who made it big
in the world of sumo
When Doreen Simmons
watched her first sumo wrestling match on a trip to Japan
in 1968, she was instantly
captivated. The Britishborn teacher
loved the
Simmons sport’s ancient
as how the
enormous, loincloth-clad
competitors toss salt in the
air before bouts to purify
the ring—and was struck by
what she described as the
“calm Buddha-like faces of
the men waiting their turn.”
This was no passing fancy.
Simmons moved to Tokyo
five years later and over
the next couple of decades
established herself as an
unlikely authority on Japan’s
national sport. She analyzed
fights in English for Japan’s
public broadcaster for
25 years and became one of
the very few women allowed
into the heya—the “stables”
where the wrestlers lived
and trained.
Born in Nottingham, a city in
central England, Simmons
taught Latin and Greek
before moving to Japan,
said The Washington Post.
She worked as an Englishlanguage editor for the country’s foreign ministry by day
and immersed herself in the
world of sumo in her free
time. She lived in Tokyo’s
Ryogoku district, “the heart
of the sumo world,” and
wrote about the sport for
Kansai Time Out, Sumo
World, and other Englishlanguage publications.
Much loved in her adopted
country, Simmons “received
the Order of the Rising Sun,
one of the Japanese government’s highest honors, last
year,” said The New York
Times. But she never saw
herself as a true expert.
“The attraction of sumo
to the person looking at
it for the first time is that
you can understand pretty
much what is going on,”
she said in 1997. “But there
is so much else [involved].
I can honestly say I haven’t
stopped learning.”
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The last word
Twilight of the early bird
The early bird dinner has long been a staple of American retirement, said writer Jaya Saxena.
But the value meal has fallen out of favor with aging Baby Boomers, who don’t want to be reminded they are old.
of South Florida
feels like purgatory.
There’s Miami, and there
are beaches, but drive for
20 minutes outside of either,
and it’s just vast plains of
boxy, beige retirement villages, distinguishable only
by their names, which all
sound like euphemisms
for a place you go when
you die—Valencia Isles,
Windward Palms, Mangrove
Bay—and the relative elaborateness of their welcome
fountains. The sky is a
flat blue, and the temperature ranges from a chilled
62 degrees indoors to a
muggy 85 degrees outside.
Entire strip malls have been
colonized by medical centers.
burdened by the overall
decline of the middle class,
have different expectations
about what retired life
should look like—mostly,
they do not want to be
reminded in any way that
they’re old now, especially
if they can afford that
luxury. Millennials might
be killing chains, but
Boomers are driving the
early bird to extinction.
bird” does come
from the proverb
about catching the worm,
which dates to 1636,
but the first appearance
of “early bird special”
At the now-shuttered Scully’s, the early bird never really took off.
isn’t until 1904, when it
shows up in a department
store ad hawking a deal on “men’s sumaffordable meal, it’s a fully packaged expeMy husband and I ventured into this limbo rience that brings elderly people together to mer underwear” from 8 a.m. to noon. It
a couple of years ago to visit his grandpops up on menus sometime in the 1920s,
gossip over poached sole and to complain
parents, Seymour and Isabel Lubchansky.
according to Andrew Haley, an associate
about something being too salty before
Their retirement community, Majestic Isles, everyone returns to their identical homes in professor of American cultural history at
in Boynton Beach—located about two
the University of Southern Mississippi, due
their identical developments.
hours north of Miami, it’s one of a cluster
to a combination of the democratization of
The first stop on our early bird tour was
of towns that might sound as familiar to a
restaurants and Prohibition. “More people
Northeasterner with Jewish grandparents as Mamma Mia, an Italian restaurant in a
are dining out, the middle class is dining
strip mall whose large portions—perfect for out on a regular basis, they have a broader
to a Florida lifer—was built in 1996, and
cutting up and storing in the fridge for three audience,” Haley told me. “But you have a
it’s open to anyone 55 and up.
days—made its special especially popular,
problem with Prohibition. It hurts the existThe Lubchanskys’ covered patio looked out according to Isabel. But at 4:30 p.m., there
ing restaurant model of fine dining as being
on manicured crabgrass and a man-made
were no elderly in sight, just teens and
the end-all of dining.” Without alcohol to
pond, where an occasional visit from a
young families ordering enormous platters
offer, restaurants had to find ways to target
snowy egret or a roseate spoonbill would
of chicken Parmesan or personal pizzas to
new audiences, and a family deal at nonremind you that the Everglades were only
go. The hostess assured me that the early
peak hours filled seats.
25 miles away. Majestic Isles has a clubbird is always slow.
house where you can play cards, a theater
The economic disruptions in the 1930s
The next day, we ventured to Scully’s
where retirees put on plays, and a shuffleand ’40s kept these deals popular, and by
Restaurant, a place that seemed more in
board court that is used only by visiting
the ’50s, it was common enough to find
line with the “traditional” idea of the early
grandchildren, and only ironically.
an “early bird special” at restaurants of all
bird—steaks and chops with a vegetable
stripes. In a 1952 ad for San Francisco’s
Struck by a vision of faded tropical buttonside. At 5 p.m., just three tables were occuGoman’s Gay 90’s, a vaudeville nightclub,
ups, card games, and steam trays full of
pied. “You know, I’m surprised with our
the early bird was advertised as a “dinner
baby carrots, we decided to go full–old
early dinner menu that we don’t get more
that includes a cocktail, fried chicken, hot
person for the weekend: We’d play shufflecustomers,” owner Kevin Scully told me.
biscuits, honey, shoestring potatoes, coffee,
board, take a slow walk, find an early bird
and after-dinner drink—all for a couple of
A day later, we drove to a diner that mulspecial, and be in bed by 7:30.
bucks,” Haley said. “The early bird idea
tiple local guides said had the best deal in
I was especially charmed by the idea of livmeans you have to come before 7:30.”
town, and we were warned to arrive early
ing the early bird life. An emblem of South
to fight for a seat. The parking lot was
Another Prohibition-era innovation to get
Florida’s retiree culture, the early bird is the
empty. Where were all of the old people?
people in the door was targeting specific
dietary aspect of the lifestyle one expects to
What happened to the early bird special?
demographics. In 1921, for instance, the
buy into down there—a slice of comfortThe short answer, I learned, is that the retir- Waldorf-Astoria introduced one of the first
ing, if boring, heaven—a time and place
children’s menus to reel in families, since
ees who heralded the early bird are going
where doing the same thing every day is a
liquor was no longer available. Throughout
sign that you’ve got it made. More than an away, and that their replacements, while
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
Alamy (2)
The last word
the Depression and into the postwar era,
diners became particularly adept at pinpointing groups of people, and eventually
they zeroed in on the old. “Diners were very
sophisticated in thinking about filling the
restaurant through the entire day,” Haley
said. “They still appealed to working-class
men in the morning and at lunch—they just
targeted families at dinner time. And they
targeted the elderly as well as any segment
that could fill in the afternoon hours.”
Social Security benefits, which arrived with
the New Deal expansion of the welfare
state, ushered in a new category of
personhood: the retiree, who could live
independently, if frugally. In the 1950s,
lured by the sun and low state taxes,
retirees began flocking to South Florida,
which had been terraformed by real
estate developers into a paradise of wide
roads, accessible beaches, and endless
fields of tract housing.
navigated by golf carts. There are 102 restaurants: national chains like Five Guys
and Panera Bread, local chains like Beef ‘O’
Brady’s, pubs, frozen yogurt shops, upscale
Italian restaurants, Chinese takeout. Of
those 102 restaurants, just three list an early
bird dinner special, and two of those are
separate locations of the same establishment.
“We do not offer an early bird just
like most restaurants in the area,” Ron
Averbeck, owner of Margarita Republic
Caribbean Bar & Grill in the Villages’
Spanish Springs Town Square, told me.
who are coming of age these days—in
part they’re healthier for longer into their
lives—view old age in very different terms,”
Haley said, “and don’t want to be seen as
the men with the hiked-up pants, and the
little old lady on a cane.”
Rosie Ross, a snowbird—though she prefers
the term “sunbird”—who spends summers
in upstate New York and winters in South
Florida with her husband, Bernard, told
me that “the notion of early bird specials
is something we attribute to older seniors,
the same ones who sneak leftover rolls and
sugar packets in their purses.”
When the new generation of retirees
does pinch pennies, they’re finding new ways of doing it. In 2014,
Americans 65 and older ate out an
average of 193 times a year, and
63 percent of those meals were at
fast-food restaurants, where a cheap
meal can be had no matter the time of
day. “A lot of people will drive to the
Wendy’s, the burger place, for hamburgers,” Isabel Lubchansky told me.
As the 20th century progressed, the
Greatest Generation aged into a valuable
consumer group. In 1980, 26.3 percent
of Americans over 60 who moved chose
Where the early bird lives, it does so
Florida as their new home; in 1985,
Some early birds have been rebranded as ‘sunset menus.’
under a different name. Whenever I
there was a joke about the early bird
mentioned it to restaurateurs, they
on Golden Girls. “It is popular with those
Margarita Republic is a popular place for
acted like “early bird” was akin to sayon a budget, senior citizens, and especially
Villages nightlife—the kind of place that
ing “Macbeth” at the theater. “It’s not an
in resort areas like Florida,” the 1994
could be dropped into any college town
early bird!” Kevin Scully, owner of Scully’s
Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink
without suspicion, a remnant of younger
Restaurant, practically yelled at me before
said of the early bird. By 1995, Nation’s
life that can be tasted again in a carefree
I could finish asking a question about it.
Restaurant News reported that “senior
retirement. “We are in a high-dollar com“It’s an early dinner!” When I asked why
citizens represent in reality an imposing
mercial real estate market,” Averbeck said, the difference, he said, “Because [the early
discretionary spending bloc for food service
and the early bird isn’t popular or profitbird has] a strange, cheap context to it. Old
operators,” and that restaurateurs were add- able enough in the wealthy enclave.
people.” A manager at Mamma Mia coring amenities to make their restaurants more
rected me when I used the term, insisting it
appealing to seniors.
early bird is pointless—it’s a product for the was their “sunset menu.” “Twilight menu”
For a moment, economic necessity even
middle class, an offering for people who eat is another favorite euphemism.
brought the gospel of the early bird to
out regularly but need to be a little savvier
The early bird was a touchstone of the
the young. In 2010, The New York Times
about it to stretch out their Social Security
middle class that may be unrecognizable a
reported that the early bird was booming
or IRAs. The rub is that the middle class
generation from now. It was also as much
in Florida, as the recession enticed younger itself is declining: Between 1970 and 2014,
a tourist attraction as it was a thriving
diners to partake in off-hours eating. But as the share of income held by middle-class
enterprise. But more than anything, it was
the economy recovered, they abandoned it, households dropped from 62 percent to
a promise that there would be a retirement.
just like their parents and grandparents.
43 percent, while the ratio of American
You might have to eat at 4 p.m., but you
workers to American retirees has fallen for
T’S IMPOSSIBLE TO talk about retirewouldn’t be sleeping in your son’s basement.
ment trends in America without talking the past few decades, meaning that the sysOn our last night in Florida, my husband,
tem may not be able to pay retirees the full
about the Villages, the 115,000-person
his grandparents, and I drove to a strip
amount they were promised.
retirement community in central Florida.
mall that looked like all the other strip described it as “a notoriWhether rich, poor, or merely one of the
malls, to eat barbecue. It didn’t have an
ous boomtown for Boomers who want
declining middle class, though, few of
early bird, but Seymour had a coupon. We
to spend their golden years with access to
the new Olds want to embrace their age.
ate dry chicken and goopy ribs and corn,
11 a.m. happy hours, thousands of activi“Your generation is definitely not headed
enough per plate to take home for a hearty
ties, and no-strings-attached sex.” It’s the
for bingo night,” the actor Dennis Hopper
lunch the next day. We drove home past
epitome of what modern retirement can
said in a 2006 Ameriprise ad about retirebe for the wealthy and white (of which the ment investment for Boomers, backed by a the medical offices, past the Publix, past the
shuffleboard court nobody had used that
Villages is 98 percent): wild, carefree, and
soundtrack of “Gimme Some Lovin’.” For
day, and we made it to bed by 8:30.
not dictated by Social Security checks.
Boomers, a retirement of shuffling between
The Villages spans 32 square miles, a retirement ecosystem deposited into the swamp
as if by meteor blast, an incredible sprawl
kitchenless apartments and the local soup
counter is hell, and you’re not going to
drag them there yet. “The Baby Boomers
Excerpted from an article that originally
appeared on, a Vox Media site.
Reprinted with permission.
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
The Puzzle Page
Crossword No. 457: Bee Well by Matt Gaffney
Last week’s contest: Kanye West was denounced by many
of his fans after he called President Trump a “brother” who
shares his “dragon energy,” and was spotted wearing a
“Make America Great Again” hat signed by the president.
If West were to release a new rap song about his defiant
love for the president, what title could he give the track?
SECOND PLACE: “In Da Mar-a-Lago Club”
Amy Pal, Mountain View, Calif.
This week’s question: A tanker truck carrying 12 tons of
liquid chocolate overturned and spilled its load across a
Polish highway last week, snarling six lanes of traffic and
creating headaches for cleanup crews. If a confectioner
were to scrape clean the blacktop and sell the spilled
chocolate, what appetizing brand name could it give the
recovered candy?
THE WINNER: “Gold Hair Digger” —Lonny Frye, Boulder
The Week Contest
THIRD PLACE: “He Ain’t Hillary, He’s My Brother”
Norm Carrier, Flat Rock, N.C.
For runners-up and complete contest rules, please go to
THE WEEK May 25, 2018
1 Rosary piece
5 Pushpin’s cousin
9 2014 Olympics city
14 Beauty magazine
15 Scatting Fitzgerald
16 Verbally
17 The 2018 National
Geographic Bee runs
May 20–24. Final
(winning) question
from the 2016 event: A
new marine sanctuary
will protect sharks and
other wildlife around
Isla Wolf in what
archipelago in the
Pacific Ocean?
19 1983 Streisand movie
20 Redskins owner Dan
21 Mazatlan money
23 Dude
24 Ruckus
26 Sal of Exodus
28 Snooze
32 Enjoy without cooking
35 Its S stands for “Safety”
36 Family ___
38 Pay hike
39 Vote against
40 Final question from
2009: Timis County
shares its name with a
tributary of the Danube
and is located in the
western part of which
European country?
42 7, sometimes
43 “This is exciting!”
45 Trump recently ended
a nuclear deal with this
46 Iraq War dangers
Hot dog
Ghosts of London
Argue against
Pandora category
Look in a book
Like a trick horse?
Open-mouthed, as in
Final question from
1997: Asia’s most
densely populated
country has about
3 million people and
an area of less than
250 square miles.
Name this country.
Cracker brand
“Caribbean Blue”
___ out a living
Syrian strongman
Ping-pong match parts
Clever, as a trick
1 Implores
2 Pizzazz
3 Join forces (with)
4 Saline body
5 Treat to a tonguelashing
6 Oran’s country (abbr.)
7 Clydesdale’s sound
8 Radio’s Casey
9 Nagano goodbye
10 “Bravissima!”
11 Final question from
2015: If completed, the
proposed Grand Inga
Dam would become
the world’s largest
hydropower plant. This
dam would be built
near Inga Falls on which
African waterway?
Hotel Rwanda group
In an unproductive way
Org. with a bunny logo
“Sprechen ___ Deutsch?”
Spider-Man director
Up ___ (so far)
Japanese beer
Final question from
2006: Peshawar, a
city in the North-West
Frontier Province of
Pakistan, has had
strategic importance for
centuries because of
its location near what
historic mountain gap?
Fruit basket items
Houdini’s former
Rickman role
Pastrami partner
Argon or nitrogen, e.g.
Knock response
Remember with regret
Irene who sings “Fame”
Subdues, one way
La ___ (former Hispanic
Such a long time
Eat well
It’s often set in a bar
Carpet layer’s
Make a comfy home
School org.
WSJ rival
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are due by noon, Eastern Time, Tuesday, May 22. Winners
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