What We’re Following

On the 35th day of the U.S. government shutdown, President Trump announced that he would sign legislation to reopen the government for three weeks—up to February 15—without a $5.7-billion border-wall guarantee. Friday began with major airport delays throughout the northeast, and is ending with the bill to reopen the government passing in Congress and heading to the president’s desk. But the deadlock is ending how it began in December: with the president accepting a deal he’d earlier rejected.

Longtime Trump friend and associate Roger Stone was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier in the day. The indictment connects a few more potential dots between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign: After WikiLeaks released stolen Democratic emails in July of 2016, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had “regarding the Clinton campaign.” Natasha Bertrand writes about the questions that remain unanswered. (Need a reminder of who exactly Roger Stone is? This timeline should help.)

Bryan Singer will still be directing the new film Red Sonja. After a recent Atlantic investigation containing accusations against Singer of alleged rape and coercive sex with men and underaged boys, the CEO of the company producing Red Sonja issued a terse statement, mentioning the amount of money Singer’s recent movie Bohemian Rhapsody generated. Here’s an industry where the ability to make money—for oneself or for a corporation—can serve as its own exoneration, Megan Garber writes.

“Western governments’ complicity, primarily by way of silence, gives authoritarian rulers confidence in their actions.” Matthew Hedges was a British academic jailed for seven months last year in the United Arab Emirates for alleged espionage. He writes publicly about his harrowing experience for the first time here.

Shan Wang


Evening Read

The Murky Ethics of the Ugly-Produce Business

(Photo: Jennifer A. Smith / Getty)

Socially conscious grocery shoppers have long been eager to remedy one of the most-cited problems in the food industry: unused produce. Start-ups that put together boxes of  “ugly” fruits and veggies have popped up to tackle the issue. Can they have real impact?

“Depending on who you ask, ugly produce is either the salvation or destruction of America’s food system. The reality of its potential impact might be a little more complicated, with start-ups profiting from the food system’s structural problems while also providing real, material good for working-class people. It seems as though ‘ugly’ produce companies didn’t anticipate the criticism they’ve received.”
→ Read the rest.


Our Critic’s Picks

Scene from The Favourite

(Still from The Favourite / Fox)

Read: The Man Booker Prize finalist Chigozie Obioma’s second book, An Orchestra of Minorities, is a recasting of Homer’s Odyssey epic—for the protagonists in each tale, “mere survival is the most amazing feat of all.”

Watch: Yorgos Lanthimos’s Oscar-nominated The Favourite, and watch it especially for the ways the three female leads move—flail, stomp, fall, storm—through the halls of power, with “refreshing range and complexity.”

Listen: The indie rocker Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album, Remind Me Tomorrow, is a celebration of vulnerability. The songs have a pop accessibility; yet “they also blur and drift, edging from expected notes to weird ones.”


Poem of the Week

On this chaotic Friday, here is an excerpt from “Rope’s End,” by the Pulitzer Prize–winning former U.S. poet laureate, Howard Nemerov:

Unraveling a rope
You begin at the end.
Taking the finished work
You pick it to its bits,

Straightening out the crossed,
Deriving many from one.

→ Read the rest, from The Atlantic’s September 1967 issue.


Reporting Residency

The Atlantic is launching a program to help cultivate a new generation of public-service journalists. We’re looking for emerging writers who are interested in working with Atlantic editors to report and write a portfolio piece or series. The residency lasts three months and comes with a $15,000 stipend. Pitches are due by January 27. Apply here.


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

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

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