FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
Foreign affairs
March 24, 2014

The United States and the leaders of six other world powers on Monday voted to exclude Russia from the Group of 8 as punishment for Moscow's annexation of Crimea. The G8 was to meet in Sochi, Russia, later this year, but the group will now meet in Brussels — sans Russian representatives.

In a joint statement, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy said the move was intended to "reaffirm our support for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence." But the nations noted that they were only suspending Russia until it "changes course," and warned of coordinated sanctions should it instead "continue to escalate this situation."

Russia, for its part, isn't too worried about the move, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying he doesn't "see a great misfortune" in being excluded from the G8, and dinging the group as "an informal organization that does not give out any membership cards." Jon Terbush

campaign 2016
6:56 a.m. ET

Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech on national security in Atlanta on Thursday night, and in the process made his most extended public statement on whether or not he will seek the Democratic nomination in 2016. The short version: He doesn't know. He's not thinking about his potential rivals or fundraising or the challenge in setting up a national campaign apparatus, Biden said, sometimes getting emotional. "The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run," he explained. "The factor is, can I do it? The honest to God answer is I just don't know."

After losing a son and a brother, Beau Biden, earlier this year, "can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment?" Biden asked. "Unless I can go to my party and the American people and say I am able to devote my whole heart and soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate." You can watch his comments below. Peter Weber

Iran nuclear deal
6:20 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

On Aug. 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cleared his calendar and sat down with 22 U.S. Democratic lawmakers who had been flow to Israel by a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The topic was the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu didn't asked any of the lawmakers to oppose the deal, some of those lawmakers tell The Wall Street Journal, but he answered their questions, explained his opposition to the accord and why he thought it dangerous to Israel, called their upcoming vote a "moral" choice, and at one point drew a picture of a "nuclear gun" with "nuclear bullets." It didn't work: Of the lawmakers at the meeting who have announced how they will vote, seven will support the deal and two will oppose it. There are now enough Democrats to ensure the accord goes into effect.

Characterizing their potential support for the Iran deal as immoral turned off some of the lawmakers, they told The Journal, and others said they didn't appreciate it when Netanyahu said that if the deal were enacted, Iran would soon have ICBMs aimed at the U.S. "Where he lost me was where I thought he was trying to provoke fear," explained Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.).

The final straw for other lawmakers at the meeting was Netanyahu's lack of a viable Plan B. The prime minister said that a better deal would be if Iran dismantled all its nuclear facilities in return for a gradual easing of sanctions, but when one of the members of Congress asked about what his plans are if the deal goes through, Netanyahu reportedly replied, "We will figure out what we do if we lose the vote."

Still other Democrats say Netanyahu overplayed his hand from the beginning, by accepting a GOP invitation to address Congress without informing the White House. "The unfortunate problem with Prime Minister Netanyahu is that he prides himself on being the Israeli who knows America the best," former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) tells The Washington Post. "Where he's mistaken is, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows the America that elected Ronald Reagan president. He's completely unfamiliar with the America that elected Barack Obama president. And they are in fact very different Americas." Peter Weber

Drunk History
5:12 a.m. ET

Jenny Slate, who famously lost her job at Saturday Night Live for inadvertently saying the F word on live TV, doesn't swear when she gets drunk and tells the history of how Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson earned their Nobel Prize for finding proof of the Big Bang theory. She does discuss her dog's genitalia, however, in the season premiere of Comedy Central's Drunk History. And more importantly, she makes the story of a big moment in science relatable and fun — with a big assist from Justin Long (Penzias) and Jason Ritter (Wilson).

Slate is "the perfect Drunk History narrator: silly but focused," says Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya at AV Club. "And she weirdly cares about the story she's telling, giving endearing — if ahistorical — details to the characters." The video is mostly safe for work, so feel free to sit down and learn about of how two scientists made history with New Jersey's Holmdel Horn Antenna:

If Slate's slightly inebriated storytelling piqued your interest, there are plenty of more sober (and more accurate) versions out there waiting. Peter Weber

Numbers
4:36 a.m. ET

Has any demographic endured such scrutiny as the poor, overly understood millennials? On Thursday, Pew Research Center released the latest deep-dive into the group of Americans age 18 to 34, and the results don't speak well of millennials, according to millennials. According to Pew's findings, 59 percent of millennials think millennials are self-absorbed, 49 percent say they're wasteful, 43 percent say they're greedy, and 31 percent say their generation is cynical.

On the other hand, only 24 percent of millennials say millennials are responsible, 36 percent say they're hard-working, and only 17 percent think their generation is moral. Those numbers get progressively higher for each generation, just as they get progressivly smaller for the negative attributes.

One explanation for this apparent self-hatred — or perhaps more proof of it — is that only 40 percent of millennials consider themselves part of the millennials generation; an almost equal number, 33 percent, identify (wrongly) as members of Generation X (age 35 to 50). Then again, by those metrics, the most self-hating generation is the "Silent Generation," age 70 to 87, most of whom think they're Baby Boomers or the Greatest Generation (34 percent each). Because, who wants to be silent when you can be great?

(Pew)

You can see all the results at Pew. Peter Weber

last night on late night
3:38 a.m. ET

Thursday is "unnecessary censorship" night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and if you like to let your filthy mind fill in the blanks when newscasters, celebrities, Donald Trump, and even a cartoon panda say perfectly innocent things, watch below. The last bleep is the cruelest, but everything's safe for work — which is kind of the point, in a twisted way. Peter Weber

Iran nuclear deal
3:10 a.m. ET
Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, three more Senate Democrats backed the Iran nuclear deal, giving President Obama 37 votes, enough to ensure that a bill to sink the accord won't survive his veto and just four votes shy of keeping the bill from even getting to his desk. But also on Thursday, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran's legislature will also get a binding vote on the deal, giving supporters of the accord a new round of parliamentary politics to worry about.

"Parliament should not be sidelined on the nuclear deal issue," Khamenei said in a nationally broadcast speech. "I don't have any advice to the parliament about how to examine it, approval or disapproval.... I have told the president that it is not in our interest to not let our lawmakers review the deal." The ayatollah has not publicly endorsed or rejected the deal. The speaker of Iran's parliament, Ali Larijani, does support the accord, but later on Thursday he reiterated Khamenei's decision, adding, "There will be heated discussions and debates." President Hassan Rouhani and his team of nuclear negotiators had hoped to avoid a vote in parliament.

Nobody is sure how Iranian lawmakers will vote, but the influential 15-member committee that examined the deal expressed strong reservations, The Wall Street Journal reports. Either way, Khamenei will have the final say, and some analysts suggest he is letting parliament weigh in as a way to keep his options open. Peter Weber

Quotables
1:57 a.m. ET
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

If you drew a Venn diagram with one circle being rap fans and the other Rolling Stones partisans, the group in the overlapping oval will probably be pretty conflicted over Keith Richards' new interview with the New York Daily News. "Rap — so many words, so little said," Richards told the Daily News' Jim Farber. "What rap did that was impressive was to show there are so many tone-deaf people out there... All they need is a drumbeat and somebody yelling over it and they're happy. There's an enormous market for people who can't tell one note from another."

Richards, 71, was just getting started. "Millions are in love with Metallica and Black Sabbath," he said. "I just thought they were great jokes." He went on to say he stopped appreciating the Beatles in 1967, considers bandmate Mick Jagger a snob ("your friends don't have to be perfect," he added), and thinks most other rock guitarists are egotists who play too much without enough taste. For more of Richards' thoughts on the world, his upcoming (reluctant) solo album, and his drug of choice these days, read the interview at the Daily News. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads