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March 17, 2014
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At this point, every chocolate lover with access to the internet or a newspaper knows that dark chocolate is good for you. Now, medical researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston are looking to see if science can give you all the benefits of eating chocolate — specifically, preventing heart attacks and strokes — without any of the joy.

A new study will enroll 18,000 people to test out a pill containing cocoa flavanols, which smaller studies have shown to be beneficial in preventing a host of cardiovascular problems. The capsules will contain many, many more times the flavanols than you'd find in a candy bar.

While it may seem odd that the study is being sponsored not only by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, but also Mars Inc., the maker of such confectionary delights as Snickers, Dove bars, M&Ms, and Twix, Mars and other chocolate companies have undoubtedly benefitted from chocolate's new status as a health food. And "you're not going to get these protective flavanols in most of the candy on the market," says Brigham's Dr. JoAnn Manson, who's leading the study. "Cocoa flavanols are often destroyed by the processing."

Here's the secret ingredient: Mars has patented a method to extract high concentrations of flavanols from cocoa pods and put them in capsules. So this is a win-win for Mars. Just maybe not for chocoholics. Peter Weber

1:09 a.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) opened his speech at the 72nd annual Al Smith Dinner in New York City on Thursday night with a joke about President Trump. "Please, enough," he said as the audience applauded. "You sound like the Cabinet when Donald Trump walks into the room." He kept going from there.

The white-tie dinner, a fundraiser for the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, hosted by the Catholic archbishop of New York, is typically a bipartisan political roast, and the world lost out on the Democratic jokes from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), who had to cancel his appearance to vote against the Senate GOP budget resolution.

Trump — whose speech at the 2016 Al Smith Dinner was uncomfortably sharp-elbowed and defensive, as Ryan alluded to in one of his jokes — wasn't the only target for Ryan and his joke writers. Ryan also poked fun at Hillary Clinton ("I'm from Wisconsin. It's a great state to visit in the fall. Looking back, someone should have told Hillary"), Stephen Bannon ("Steve Bannon said I was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation. This is amazing — no one knew Steve believed in science"), himself ("Every afternoon, former Speaker John Boehner calls me up. Not to give advice. Just to laugh"), and his methods for surviving the Trump presidency ("Every morning, I wake up in my office and scroll Twitter to see which tweets I will have to pretend that I didn't see later"). You can read more of his one-liners at NBC News. Peter Weber

12:31 a.m. ET
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Former President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail on Thursday for Democrats running for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, and told voters to reject the "old politics of division" that date back centuries. "It's the 21st century," he said, "not the 19th century. Come on!"

This was his first time out stumping since he left the White House, and Obama warned of people who "demonize" those who don't agree with them in order to "get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage." While speaking in Virginia on behalf of Ralph Northam, Obama was focused on his opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, but his comments could also apply to Trump. "If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you're not going to be able to govern," he said, and it's especially difficult to "unite them later if that's how you start."

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy is doing well in the polls, but Obama, with a nod to 2016, told a crowd in Newark, "You can't take this election or any election for granted — I don't know if you all noticed that. You've got to run through the tape." Thousands waited in line in New Jersey and Virginia to attend the rallies, and Obama was interrupted at one point during the Northam event with chants of "Four more years!" He quipped, "I refer you both to the Constitution, as well as to Michelle Obama, to explain why that won't happen." Catherine Garcia

12:31 a.m. ET

Somehow President Trump has turned a question about four U.S. soldiers dying in Niger into a weeklong blowup about his respect for fallen service members and his predecessors, Trevor Noah marveled on Thursday's Daily Show. By the sound of it, families who lost a child or spouse in combat "may start out hoping that the president would reach out, and they end up wishing that they had let his calls go to voicemail," he said, recapping the saga involving Trump's call to the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson.

"Now look, in Trump's defense — and I know people don't like hearing that phrase — Donald Trump is the worst at words," Noah said. "He was probably trying to convey a heartfelt message but instead the people interpreted it as him disrespecting the troops. That's what they said: He was trying something, and then people are now like, 'Donald Trump, you disrespected the troops!' I bet you wherever Colin Kaepernick is right now, he's probably like, 'Well, ain't that a bitch.'"

"Trump can't be faulted for not being articulate, but he can be blamed for making an unnecessary problem worse," Noah said. He acted out Trump's surly response and the stern response from a parental electorate, ending with a joke about accidents. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 19, 2017
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The Los Angeles Dodgers are headed to the World Series after defeating the Chicago Cubs 11-1 on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, winning the National League Championship Series in a Game 5 blowout.

It was a big night for Dodgers slugger Enrique Hernandez, who hit three home runs and set an NLCS record for most RBIs in a game, the Los Angeles Times reports. This is the Dodgers' first pennant win since 1988, and they will face off against either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees in the first game of the World Series next Tuesday in Los Angeles. Catherine Garcia

October 19, 2017
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is backing out of a controversial scheduled appearance at the Women's Convention next week in Detroit in order to visit Puerto Rico, where in the wake of Hurricane Maria, 3 million people remain without power and 1 million don't have running water.

In a statement, Sanders apologized to the organizers of the convention for having to cancel, adding, "Given the emergency situation in Puerto Rico, I will be traveling there to visit with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and other officials to determine the best way forward to deal with the devastation the island is experiencing."

The Women's Convention is a three-day event put on by the same organizers behind the Women's March in January. When it was announced that Sanders was speaking on opening night, there was immediate backlash from critics wondering why the honor was given to a man. In response, co-president Tamika Mallory said Sanders was not the convention's headliner, and he was invited because he's a "fierce champion of women's rights." Prominent women appearing at the event include Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and actress and activist Piper Perabo. Catherine Garcia

October 19, 2017
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On Thursday night, the Senate approved a 2018 budget resolution on a 51-49 vote, authorizing adding another $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade in order to cover President Trump's proposed tax cuts. The budget resolution contains a provision allowing Senate Republicans to pass a tax bill with no Democratic votes.

Trump's tax plan is still being developed, but Democrats are warning voters that all signs point to it benefiting the wealthiest Americans and corporations. An amendment was crafted by House and Senate Republicans so they don't have to spend weeks reconciling the Senate budget with the version the House has already passed. Both the House and Senate tax-writing committees are trying to release their draft legislation by early November. Catherine Garcia

October 19, 2017
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In an op-ed for The New York Times published Thursday, actress Lupita Nyong'o described several uncomfortable encounters she had with Harvey Weinstein, saying she's speaking up to "make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance."

Nyong'o said she first met Weinstein in 2011 while a student at the Yale School of Drama, and was warned he "could be a bully." He invited her to screen a movie at his Connecticut home, and he led her into his bedroom, where he said he wanted to give her a massage. "For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe," she said. Nyong'o turned the tables and offered him a massage, because "it would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times," she wrote. When he said he wanted to take off his pants, Nyong'o headed to the door. "I didn't quite know how to process the massage incident," she said. "I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled for, but not overtly sexual." Months later, he overtly propositioned her at dinner, and she said no.

After 12 Years a Slave came out in 2013, Weinstein approached Nyong'o and told her he had "treated me so badly in the past," she said. "He was ashamed of his actions and he promised to respect me moving forward. I said thank you and left it at that. But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein." Now that other women have come forward with Weinstein stories, Nyong'o said she can see there "is clearly power in numbers." While she wishes she had known then that she wasn't alone, Nyong'o is thankful for those who have shared their stories. "Now that we are speaking," she said, "let us never shut up about this kind of thing." Catherine Garcia

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