What kind of a week includes Congress turning on the president, Barbies in wheelchairs, adorable wire fox terriers, and actual, genuine discussion over where politicians fall on the moldy jam issue? Your answer, of course, should simply be, “Oh, just any ol’ week in 2019.” This, dear friends, is the hyper-accelerated world of today, and you just have to strap in and enjoy it. For those wondering about whether or not we should take a moment to reflect on anything, consider this: It’s a year after the Parkland shootings, and it’s not entirely clear if anything has substantially changed in the gun control debate over the past 12 months despite the best efforts of many. (Too depressing? Sorry; it’s still true, though.) When you’re done contemplating that, here’s everything else folks were talking about online in the last seven days.
So Long, Opportunity
What Happened: The internet shed more than a few tears last week in honor of the little Mars rover that could, and some final words that weren’t. (They were, however, very poetic.)
What Really Happened: A 15-year space mission finally came to an end last week when NASA announced that it had given up attempts to re-establish contact with Mars rover Opportunity after it fell silent last summer following a dust storm.
The end of the massively successful mission was big news as should be expected—it deserved no less—but what might have been more surprising was how many people were talking about it on social media. The reason for that may have been that so many were moved by one man’s descriptions of the last transmission by the rover.
There’s only one problem: That’s not exactly what happened.
But, hey, cynics; here’s something to really break your heart: Tweets from Scott Maxwell, one of the project leads in creating Opportunity in the first place.
OK, if you’re not crying now, what is wrong with you?
The Takeaway: This feels appropriate, really.
Shutdown Woes, Part 2
What Happened: Just when you thought there was going to be another government shutdown, victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat—at least until the jaws of defeat started snapping again.
What Really Happened: As the week began, many people were worrying about the potential for another US government shutdown as the three-week window for bipartisan talks neared an end, seemingly without any movement. Then, on Monday, some hope.
An agreement “in principal” is better than no agreement at all, and news that was quickly shared everywhere as people breathed a sigh of relief over the chaos that was about to be avoided. So, what was actually in the compromise, anyway?
That’s not a win for the right, as they loudly grumbled.
Nonetheless, the Republican leadership in the Senate was all for it—
—and they weren’t the only ones on the right hoping that President Trump would just suck it up and sign the bill, if only to avoid the disastrous scenes that had arrived as the result of the last shutdown, only weeks ago.
It sure sounded like everyone wanted the president to just go along with the majority, but would Trump do that?
Oh, of course. But, he remained as contrarian as ever right up until the very last minute.
One day, the president will remember that this is not a reality television show but instead, you know, the largest economy in the entire world. (Well, for awhile longer, at least.)
The Takeaway: How’d it all shake out by the end of the week? Well…
Why Hello Again, Paul Manafort
What Happened: Pity poor Paul Manafort, a man who, when given the opportunity by federal authorities to save his own skin, decided that it would be better if he just bit the hand that fed him, instead.
What Really Happened: When it comes to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, it appears that he can’t help but appear in the news on a regular basis. This week’s installment? That would be a federal judge ruling on whether or not Manafort was lying to Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he cut a deal last year. It didn’t go well for Manafort.
So, Manafort’s plea deal is now null and void because he lied, again, basically. If you’re still confused, perhaps we should just wait for the experts.
OK, maybe not. For those wondering how bad this is in real terms, the answer turns out to be, “pretty bad.”
One question was on a lot of people’s lips after this ruling: What was Manafort thinking?
The Takeaway: Of course, perhaps there’s a far more obvious reason behind the whole thing.
El Chapo’s Money
What Happened: By the time that a jury had declared the result of the months-long El Chapo trial, lawmakers had declared a plan to spend his money in service of something that very few actually want. (No, not an El Chapo Teach-Yourself-Escapology Center, as much as we wish otherwise.)
What Really Happened: It may not have been the trial of the century—admittedly, most people had entirely forgotten it was still going on—but last week, the trial of Joaquin Guzmán, aka “El Chapo,” came to an end with a satisfying conclusion for everyone paying attention—well, except Guzmán.
The verdict was swiftly spread across the internet, as news of tense scenes in the courtroom started to emerge, adding to the intrigue.
Why so tense? Perhaps because El Chapo was the kind of man to successfully bribe the Mexico’s president and escape from prisons with his mistress, both of which are facts that make him sound more like a fictional crime lord or James Bond villain than a real person. No wonder jurors are reportedly hoping to stay anonymous after the trial. (For those wondering, El Chapo is reportedly going to “Supermax” in Colorado, and you can already take a tour, because the world is an incredible place.)
But, wait. This story isn’t strange enough yet, but it’s about to be.
Yes, that’s right; Senator Ted Cruz, the internet’s favorite Zodiac Killer tribute act, has decided that Guzmán and others like him should … pay for the wall? And he’s far from alone.
There was no small amount of irony in this announcement, as many pointed out.
Before we all rush to judgment for it being a ridiculous idea when there are so, so many other ways to spend $14 billion in a more responsible manner, consider this: Given a choice between using El Chapo’s money or stealing the money from Puerto Rico recovery efforts, suddenly Cruz’s plan doesn’t seem quite so dumb after all, does it?
The Takeaway: Hey, look! The president’s on board! Well, if by “on board,” I mean, “clearly doesn’t know anything about it but isn’t willing to admit that publicly.”
Disappearing Bees—and Other Bugs
What Happened: Just in case you forgot that bees were disappearing in record numbers, last week there was news that it wasn’t just bees.
What Really Happened: Good news for people who hate both creepy crawlies and life on Earth arrived early last week, thanks to a report that suggested that insects may vanish from the planet within the next century, based on current rates of attrition, which could lead to a—as the report calls it, understatedly, “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems.” So, you know, nothing major.
The news of oncoming ecological disaster was something that went viral in a niche manner, even as the right wing fought back with blind denial. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, however, as social media also tried to mobilize to recommend things that could be done to slow down the end of the world (as did CNN, unexpectedly).
The response to the report, while widespread for about a day or so after its release, didn’t last too long, because … well, everyone has such a short attention span and dumb politicians can be so entertaining sometimes.
Goodbye, insects. Goodbye, planet.
The Takeaway: Let’s just try and stay focused, shall we? Yes, we know that Brexit is continuing to be a disaster and people are selling secrets to Iran, but come on, people.