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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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Kavanaugh is confirmed; Earth’s governments are given 12 years to get climate change under control; Bansky trolls Sotheby’s

Brett Michael Kavanaugh, who is two years older than Justice Neil Gorsuch and 32 years younger than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States after two formerly undecided swing votes, 65-year-old Senator Susan Collins and 71-year-old Senator Joe Manchin III, tipped the 50-48 margin, one of the slimmest in American history.1 Over the course of 45 minutes on the Senate floor, Collins, a supporter of abortion rights, defended Kavanaugh as “an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father” who would not endanger Roe v. Wade because his “views on honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly.”2 Forty-six-year-old Jeanne Mancini, president of the anti-abortion activist group March for Life, released a statement cheering the effect Kavanaugh’s “dedicated public service will have towards creating a country where every human life is valued and protected equally under the law.”3 Sixty-three-year-old Senator Lindsey Graham, who insisted that the country’s founders did not intend to protect abortion in the Constitution during his alotted 30 minutes during Kavanaugh’s initial confirmation hearing, called Collins “awesome.”4 5 The seventy-six-year-old Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell also praised the “very independent” Collins, and thanked “the mob” opposing Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination for doing “the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base,” adding that “nothing unifies Republicans like the courts.”6 At a rally in Mississippi, President Trump, aged 72, mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the 51-year-old Palo Alto psychology professor who testified that Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a small party in high school, to gales of audience laughter and applause, and said that those who advanced “false” accusations, like his own accusers of sexual assault, should be “held liable.”7 8 Prior to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the president told reporters, “I have women that are incensed at what’s going on”; following his confirmation, the president said, “a lot of women are extremely happy.”9 10 The average age of US government leadership at the highest levels continues to remain on the rise, which makes the country a gerontocracy.11 Police used data from a 90-year-old man’s Fitbit to charge him with the murder of his 67-year-old stepdaughter, and 29-year-old former White House communications director Hope Hicks has been named chief communications officer for “New Fox,” the company that will result from the Disney–21st Century Fox merger.12 13

During a tour of Africa, First Lady Melania Trump wore a white pith helmet in Kenya and handed out “Be Best” blankets and teddy bears, and read stories to children; when criticized for wearing the pith helmet, a symbol of colonial rule, Trump, who in June wore a Zara jacket reading i really don’t care. do u? to a migrant child detention center in Texas, told reporters while standing in front of the Sphinx of Giza, “I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear.”14 Six children in Minnesota have been diagnosed with Acute flaccid myelitis, a rare polio-like disease, and far-right Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro missed an outright win in the first round of the country’s election by 4 percent.15 16 The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the top scientific body studying the phenomenon, released a report written and edited by 91 scientists concluding that Earth has 12 years to get climate change under control through initiatives such as increasing renewable electricity production, phasing out coal entirely, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by “more than 1 billion tons per year, larger than the current emissions of all but a few of the very largest emitting countries,” or else make life in many parts of the world unbearable.17 Devastation from the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than 1,700 people on the starfish-shaped island of Sulawesi in Indonesia was exacerbated by a faulty early warning system that lacked sufficient sirens and shelters; the initial 7.5 magnitude earthquake leveled buildings and, in some areas, reduced the ground to liquid.18 19 Amazon announced that the company is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its full-time, part-time, and temporary workers in the United States; the company is simultaneously reducing performance bonuses and ending its restricted stock unit program, which workers claim will cost them several thousand dollars a year.20

Twenty people in Schoharie, New York, were killed when a limousine collided with a parked car; before the crash, one of the 17 passengers texted a friend who was also attending the birthday party, “The motor is making everyone deaf.”21 22 The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Denis Mukwege, a surgeon who treated victims of sexual violence in war-torn Congo, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi-Yazidi woman who was kidnapped by the Islamic State in 2014 and sold into sexual slavery, for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.23 “Girl With Balloon,” a work by the England-based street artist known as Banksy, sold for $1.37 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London before it “demolished itself” by passing through a shredder in the bottom of its canvas. “We just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe.24 A man in Wellington, New Zealand, accidentally snapped a sculpture while climbing it because he was “bored.”25 “That’s who I am. I’m a show-off but it bit me on the butt this time,” he said.—Justin Stewart

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