New acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyAaron Bernstein / Reuters

What We’re Following

National Inquiry: The publisher of the National Enquirer admitted to paying the former Playboy model Karen McDougal to kill a story about her account of an affair with Donald Trump, signing a non-prosecution agreement with New York prosecutors. The bones of the story have already been reported on since before the 2016 election, but new this time around is the link to questions of campaign-finance violation.

The president, meanwhile, has been masterfully using “executive time” to deflect media attention. On Friday at 5:18 p.m., he named Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney as acting White House chief of staff, to replace John Kelly, tweeting that Kelly was a “GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!”

Yemen: In a rebuke of the Trump administration’s stance on the ongoing war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s involvement there, the U.S. Senate voted to end U.S. support for the war. It’s a historic challenge, given the decades-long robust partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Except that it won’t actually get the U.S. out of the war, after a House maneuver. So what was the Senate hoping to achieve?

One More Thing: Why are chores, even low-lift ones like taking out the recycling, so easy for some people to procrastinate on? According to a psychology professor, these people commonly fall into two types: the task delayers and the chronic procrastinators. Which are you?

Shan Wang


Snapshot

Photos of the week
H'Hen Nie of Vietnam poses onstage during the 2018 Miss Universe national costume presentation in Thailand, on December 10, 2018. See the rest of some of this week’s most striking photos here. (Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP / Getty)

Your Favorite Books of 2018

Last week, we asked you to share with us your favorite book of 2018. Many of you recommended books about history, both recent and ancient, or books on watershed historical moments whose themes continue to have striking relevance today. Check out the impressive selection of books suggested by you and other readers in The Atlantic’s Letters section, here. (If you’re a reader, writer, or simply love books, you might be interested in our weekly Friday Books Briefing newsletter.)


Evening Read

“Why has the Republican Party become so thoroughly corrupt?” asks the writer George Packer, who spares the GOP no arrows in his argument about the roots of what he sees as the institution’s “depravity” and “consistent repudiation of norms”:

The corruption of the Republican Party in the Trump era seemed to set in with breathtaking speed. In fact, it took more than a half century to reach the point where faced with a choice between democracy and power, the party chose the latter. Its leaders don’t see a dilemma—democratic principles turn out to be disposable tools, sometimes useful, sometimes inconvenient. The higher cause is conservatism, but the highest is power. After Wisconsin Democrats swept statewide offices last month, Robin Vos, speaker of the assembly, explained why Republicans would have to get rid of the old rules: “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.”

Read on.


What Do You Know … About Culture?

1. Her ’80s dance-pop peer Madonna was deemed “rock” enough for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. But this artist wasn’t nominated for inclusion until 2016, and finally got the honor this week.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. Barry Jenkins’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight is a fictional adaptation of this 1974 James Baldwin novel.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: Janet JAckson / If Beale Street Could Talk


Poem of the Week

Here is a portion of “A Memory of the Future” by Elizabeth Spires, from our July/August 2011 issue:

I will revel in a world
no longer particular.
A world made vague,
as if by fog. But not fog.

Vaguely aware,
I will wander at will.
I will wade deeper
into wide water.

Read the rest.


Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here—the puzzle gets more difficult through the week.

Concerns, comments, questions, typos? Email Shan Wang at swang@theatlantic.com

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