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LOREN ELLIOTT / REUTERS

1. THE CAMPAIGNING SENATORS AND THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL

Washington is the last place they want to be in the crucial weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Russell Berman is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers politics.

Thanks to the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which begins in earnest on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bennet—all 2020 Democratic candidates—are required to be on Capitol Hill next week, with a piece of virtual tape over their mouths.

Senate rules for an impeachment trial dictate that members, acting as jurors, sit in their seats the whole time. They also have no speaking role during the trial, so the candidates won’t even be able to show off their oratory or questioning skills for the benefit of voters. For the two top-tier candidates with the word former in their titles—ex–Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the recently departed mayor of South Bend, Indiana—the next few weeks might be a rare time when they’re lucky to be unemployed.

AP

2. BEYOND THE FAMILY DRAMA OF THE MEGHAN AND HARRY SHOW

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will now find out whether it’s possible to be “half royal.”

Helen Lewis is a London-based staff writer at The Atlantic.

As with Brexit Britain, the Sussexes will go through a “period of transition” as they exit a controversial institution. The royal family has said it is “entirely supportive” of the couple’s wish to “step back” from royal duties.

Meghan and Harry seem determined to take more control of the terms of their fame, even if that means rejecting the taxpayer cash they currently receive. (There’s no doubt that they could make millions if they wanted to.) How easy it will be for them to stay “half royal” is unclear.

As something close to an agnostic on the subject of the royal family, I’ve nonetheless found myself returning to them in the past few months. They provide a vivid illustration of many of today’s big political debates: the decline of deference, the conditions in which rich abusers escape justice, the ubiquity of the culture war. They offer a way for Britain to think about—and talk about—itself, at a time when its place in the world is shifting.

BTS performs during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square. (Jeenah Moon / Reuters)

3. A ‘SWAN’ SONG FROM A GLOBAL SENSATION

The supergroup BTS is giving listeners a hint of what’s next.

Lenika Cruz is a culture editor at The Atlantic.

The South Korean pop septet BTS has produced multiple Billboard chart-toppers, earned a Grammy nomination, released an EP led by the bright and danceable single “Boy With Luv,” and spoken in front of the United Nations. They rang in 2020 by performing in Times Square. This week, they unveiled a global public-arts project.

The next phase of the supergroup’s career has taken a decidedly dark and artsy turn. Their forthcoming full-length album is expected to be their final work as a group before the seven members begin their mandatory military enlistment, lending it an elegiac feel. It’s certain to further challenge the assumptions of those listeners inclined to dismiss them as “just a K-pop boy band.”

In the stunning video for their new single, “Black Swan,” seven members of a Slovenian dance company use their bodies to tell an unsettling story about the way artists often erase the self in pursuit of a vision. It’s a theme BTS has explored through their music before, and that will likely find new forms of expression in their upcoming record.


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