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May 15, 2014

When it comes to branding, Chipotle has officially jumped the shark.

The restaurant chain, which focuses on a fancier way of presenting fast food, launched bags and cups this week adorned with original text by famous authors such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Michael Lewis, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. You can visit VF's website to read each text in its entirety, although that might ruin your fun if you're planning to eat a burrito bowl later this week.

Foer, who first pitched the chain his idea, said the impetus for the project came about when he was sitting at a Chipotle and realized he had nothing to read — no book, no magazine, and, at the time, no smartphone.

"I really just wanted to die with frustration," Foer told VF Daily, which sums up how I feel about this whole glorified PR blitz. Call me old school, but when I hit a fast-food place by myself, I'm not looking to feel smarter. I'm looking to feel full, you know, fast.

Decide for yourself by taking a gander at two of the new designs, below. --Sarah Eberspacher

accidents
9:00 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Days after her son was killed instantly after setting off a firework on top of his head, a Maine mother is calling for stricter laws on who can have access to the explosives.

Police say that on the 4th of July, Devon Staples, 22, was drinking with friends in the town of Calais when the accident happened with a mortar tube. In the wake of her son's death, Kathleen Staples wants to see lawmakers consider requiring safety training courses before letting someone use fireworks. "At least it'd be a little bit more than, 'Here you go,'" she told The Associated Press. "That's an explosive. They didn't just hand me a license and put me in the car."

Staples said she thinks her son might have thought the explosive was a "dud" that wouldn't hurt him, but State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said that since the mortar had already been used once before, he "can't imagine someone would anticipate that it was a dud." This was the first fireworks-related death to occur in Maine since they were legalized in 2012, and Rep. Michel Lajoie (D) said he is considering introducing a measure next year to repeal the law. Lajoie, a retired fire chief, said he can already hear the arguments from people opposing a ban. "They're going to say, 'Well, you can't regulate stupidity'...and it's true, you can't," he told AP. "But the fact of the matter is you have to try something. I'm not giving up." Catherine Garcia

Quotables
8:12 p.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, President Obama said the fight against the Islamic State is going to be a "generational struggle" that ultimately won't be "won or lost by the United States alone," but rather the "countries and communities that terrorists like [ISIS] target."

Obama made his remarks at the Pentagon following a briefing on the U.S. campaign against ISIS. "This broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort," he said. "Ideologies are not defeated by guns. They're defeated with better ideas — a more attractive and more compelling vision." The United States was on high alert over the 4th of July weekend amid warnings of possible attacks by ISIS, and Obama touched on the danger of terrorists who are able to operate under the radar. "The threat of lone wolves or small cells of terrorists is complex, it's harder to detect and harder to prevent," he said. "That means that we're going to have to pick up our game to prevent these attacks."

To combat ISIS online, Obama said the U.S. government plans to increase its efforts to counter propaganda it posts on social media sites, and will partner with Muslim communities who speak out again "the twisted thinking that draws vulnerable people" into the ranks of ISIS. He also called out the Senate for not confirming his nominee for undersecretary of the Treasury Department, Adam Szubin. Szubin was nominated in April, but there hasn't been a hearing or vote set yet. If confirmed, one of Szubin's roles would be cracking down on illegal funding to groups like ISIS, The Guardian reports. Catherine Garcia

RIP
7:09 p.m. ET
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Jerry Weintraub, the producer behind the remake of Ocean's 11, The Karate Kid, and several other well-known films, died Monday in Palm Springs. He was 77.

Weintraub started off in the music business, serving as a tour promoter and manager for John Denver, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, and Led Zeppelin. In the 1970s, he transitioned to the movies, working with Robert Altman on Nashville. After a brief stint as head of United Artists, Weintraub founded the Weintraub Entertainment Group, which went bankrupt after three years.

More recently, he produced HBO's biodrama Behind the Candelabra; the documentary 41 on his friend, President George H.W. Bush; and the HBO series The Brink, which premiered in June. A Tarzan feature, starring Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, is set for release in 2016. "I'm an entrepreneur, I've been an independent guy all my life," he told Variety in 2007. "I love doing what I do. I love the movies, I love actors, I love directors, I love writers, I love working with the studio, I love the marketing. I love the whole process." Weintraub is survived by his longtime girlfriend Susan Eakins, and children Michael, Julie, Jamie, and Jody. Catherine Garcia

crisis in yemen
6:44 p.m. ET

Air strikes across Yemen have killed close to 100 people, including several women and children, the Houthi-run state news agency said Monday.

In the Amran province, north of the capital, Sanaa, 54 people were killed, including 40 who were shopping at a market, Reuters reports. In southern Yemen, more than 40 people were killed during a strike on a livestock market in the town of al-Foyoush. Médecins Sans Frontières reports that hundreds of people have been entering medical facilities over the past several days, with Colette Gadenne, head of the mission, saying, "It is unacceptable that air strikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan."

The U.N. has called for a stop to the air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, and special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed spoke with Houthi forces to try to broker a humanitarian ceasefire. Last week, the UN designated the war a Level 3 humanitarian crisis, the most severe category. Since March, 3,000 people have been killed in the fighting. Catherine Garcia

This just in
5:37 p.m. ET
Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation/Getty Images

In a previously sealed document from a 2005 deposition, comedian Bill Cosby admitted to acquiring Quaaludes, which he said he intended to give to younger women he wanted to have sex with.

The admission came under oath, as part of a lawsuit filed by a former Temple University employee against Cosby. Cosby admitted to giving her three half-pills of Benadryl. The lawsuit was settled in 2006.

The Associated Press went to court in a successful petition for the release of the documents, which were publicly released on Monday afternoon. Cosby's lawyers unsuccessfully sought to keep the documents sealed, arguing that their release would "embarrass" Cosby. Scott Meslow

This just in
4:31 p.m. ET
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The South Carolina Senate on Monday voted 37-3 to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbus, The Associated Press reports. The Senate will still need to vote on the bill one more time Tuesday, though The New York Times reports it is "virtually assured of success" in the Senate. How the bill will fare in the House, however, still remains to be seen; it must also pass there before it can be signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley.

South Carolinians began pushing for their state to remove the flag, considered by many to be a racist symbol, after a white gunman last month killed nine African-Americans attending a Bible study group in a historically black Charleston church. Samantha Rollins

This just in
3:53 p.m. ET
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Less than two weeks after Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was formally sentenced to death for his role in the April 2013 bombing, he filed a preliminary motion for a new trial. Tsarnaev's lawyers are requesting a new trial for both his conviction and death sentence, saying a new trial is required "in the interests of justice." The motion is considered a placeholder for a more detailed one his lawyers will file next month, before Tsarnaev's post-trial action deadline of August 17.

Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges in May in relation to the bombing that killed three people and injured 264 others. Becca Stanek

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