Lucas Jackson / Reuters

What We’re Following

A few politicians who have yet to announce are looming over the 2020 Democratic field. Bernie Sanders, the democratic-socialist senator who caught fire in 2016, has long demurred on whether he’ll run for president again. Yet behind the scenes he is setting the stage for another run, under the premise that a crowded Democratic primary could give him a path to squeak through and unseat President Trump. Joe Biden, the former vice president, also looks to be heading toward a 2020 run, positioning himself as a more moderate foil to lefties like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

A spate of yearbook photos have upended Virginia politics. The state is still reeling from racist images in Governor Ralph Northam’s med-school yearbook page and in yearbook pages edited by Tommy Norment, the majority leader of Virginia’s state Senate. Yearbooks are meant to serve as time capsules, and are by nature insular—the text can sometimes only be deciphered by those who are in its pages. That’s the defense that Brett Kavanaugh successfully marshaled when passages from his yearbook came under attack last year. But what makes the latest yearbook allegations so damning is that they are images that provide a stark reminder of how American culture has—or, rather, hasn’t—changed over the past decades.

The U.S. has long stationed troops in South Korea to fend off North Korea. But the deal between the two countries expired at the end of 2018, with the U.S. requesting that South Korea contribute more money to fund the 28,500 troops deployed there. Now, a South Korean lawmaker has indicated that a one-year deal had been struck that only incrementally increased its share of the total cost. American allies are playing close attention to the negotiations, as they’re proving to be a petri dish for how the Trump administration will approach other contract negotiations being hammered out in Japan and elsewhere.

The Supreme Court voted 5–4 to block a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s liberal block and Justice Kavanaugh writing a dissent. Here’s why Roberts just might be the most interesting conservative on the Court in recent history.

—Saahil Desai


Evening Read

Growing Up in a House Full of Perfect Dogs

(David Williams)

At the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the perfectly manicured canines get all the attention, but their handlers have to do all the dirty work to ensure that they’re in tip-top shape before getting in front of the judges. For one mother-daughter team, life revolves around their show dogs:

“With four days to go before the prestigious 2019 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Mara Flood is spending a good chunk of her waking hours keeping Poe, a two-year-old smooth collie (full name: Travler SugarNSpice Witches Do Come Blue), from impulsively humping the young female in heat who’s been staying in the next room over. Flood has been taking the two outside in shifts, making sure one or the other is always in a crate. It’s a hassle, but then again, it’s right on schedule for a dog of Poe’s age: “He’s my teenage boy,’ Flood laughs. ‘He doesn’t even eat. He’s like, Oooh, a girl!’”

→ Read the rest.


My friend, John Dingell

(Alex Brandon / AP)

John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, passed away Thursday night at the age of 92. The Majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Steny Hoyer writes:

“On Wednesday, I traveled to Michigan to say goodbye. For two and a half hours, I sat by his bedside; Debbie sat nearby. Before I left, I leaned over and kissed John on his forehead and whispered: ‘I love you—that’s not just from me, but from all of your friends in the House.’”

→ Read the rest.


Our Critic’s Picks

Asghar Farhadi’s thriller Everybody Knows

(Focus Features)

Read: In 1986, the artists Run-DMC and Aerosmith struck up a somewhat ill-fitting collaboration and recorded a cover of one of the latter’s songs from a decade earlier. In Walk This Way: Run-DMC, Aerosmith, and the Song That Changed American Music Forever, Geoff Edgers writes that this partnership propelled rap from an underground subculture into mainstream entertainment.

Watch: Abducted in Plain Sight, a new Netflix documentary, chronicles the strange, bewildering story of a teenager who has been kidnapped by a close family friend. The revelations in the film are so extraordinary that they dull the filmmakers’ goal of ending the culture of silence around sexual assault.

Listen: Ariana Grande’s new album, Thank U, Next, her second in six months, is filled with a brash attitude and honesty that evince how her music, and life, have changed since she first emerged on the scene.


Poem of the Week

Atlantic magazine cover, December 1995

Here is an excerpt from “Progress Report,” by George Mills:

I had a ball,
it rolled out of sight.
I ran after it
into adulthood.

I learned to believe
the right lies
and sign myself
with unreadable flourishes.

→ Read the rest, from The Atlantic’s December 1995 issue.


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